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Conflict in his Mind.
tial doctrines, and condemns his superstitious forms. Unlike Joseph Milner, who thinks Augustine the true light of a dark age, Taylor regards him as having given his influence to the worst practises of priestcraft, such as celibacy, saint-worship, purgatory, relics, and the whole train of similar abominations. We are perfectly ready to agree with Mr. Taylor as to the effect of the Nicene ideas of woman and celibacy in promoting a morbid creed, temper and ritual. Augustine himself, as Possidius and his own writings declare, held very extreme views regarding married life, and was very reluctant to mingle at all in female society. Had he associated more with women and children, or known the discipline of a true home, some features of his theology might have been spared the world. But Mr. Taylor probably refers to other points than ourselves in his censures.
These are strange words for a champion of modern Calvinism to apply to the great progenitor of his creed:
“Augustine, the hope, the last hope of his times, joined hands with the besotted bigots around him, who would listen to no reproofs; he raised his voice among the most intemperate to drown remonstrance. Superstition and spiritual despotism, illusion, knavery, and abject formalism, received a new warrant from the high seat of influence which he occupied; the church drove its chariot with mad haste down the steep, and thenceforward nothing marks its history but blasphemy, idolatry and blood ! The popery which even now is gathering over our heavens in all quarters, is little else than the digested superstition which the good Augustine set forward in his day.”
These words are undoubtedly true so far as they refer to errors and superstitions embedded in Augustine's works, and which might be made to palliate results like those specified, but the passage cited is not fair as an exposition of, Augustine's own spirit and tendency. He was surrounded by formal superstitions, and approved not a few evil customs, but these had not mastered his own soul. Unconsciously perhaps to Augustine, the great conflict was going on in his mind, which was afterwards to be waged so fiercely and with such various results — the controversy still going on between faith and formalism — "an eagle and a serpent wreathed in fight.” In his soul, the eagle had not lost the mastery. VOL. XL. — 4TH. S. VOL. V. NO. II.
“A shaft of light upon its wings descended,
And every golden feather gleamed therein
Whether eagle or serpent shall finally conquer, Mr. Taylor of course believes, will be decided by the issue of the present controversy.
The Oxford scholars are careful, evidently, not to select Augustine's more decided predestinarian works for the press. They show their estimate of him by printing his Confessions and Homilies. We prefer to give their judgment of his worth in these lines from Williams's “Cathedral,” to extracting any passages from their prefaces or notes. The sonnet is no bad summary of the life portrayed.
“As when the sun hath climbed a cloudy mass,
And looks at noon on some cathedral dim,
Breaks into hues of radiant seraphim;
So, sainted Bishop! in the lettered stone
Which still enfolds thy spirit, fled from sight,
Christ bathes each part with his transforming light
Late risen in thee. Thence all is eloquent
With flowing sweetness ; o'er each rising pause
The word, pleading for his most righteous laws.
For thy sick soul, by baptism's seal relieved,
Deep in her brackish founts the healing Cross received."
We must deal more gently than otherwise with the last two lines, since Augustine himself was an advocate of baptismal regeneration. Evidently neither Evangelicals nor High-churchmen can make the ancient saint wholly subservient to their minds.
His True Place.
Not a few of our readers will not regret the inability of either party to make sectarian capital of so great a name, and will be more eager to learn the lessons taught by his life. They will require little aid to lead them to appreciate the double lesson conveyed; — the danger of allowing one favorite notion to master the mind, and of suffering the pride of logical consistency to enslave the intuitions of the reason, the undefinable instincts of our moral nature, to any abstract formula, whether of philosophy or theology ; on the other hand, the power of a strong faith in the revealed God, the peace of a soul assured of forgiveness, resting in the Divine will, and giving all its energies to the good of man and the advancement of the Divine kingdom. Herein was thy chief glory, Augustine, heart of flame! an absorbing faith and love, born of a deep personal experience, and never quenched or eclipsed by strifes, dogmas or forms. Burn and shine forever in that golden candle-stick in which not one church, but all Christians have exalted thy memory!
Divide the strong minds of Christendom into four chief classes, according to their affinity with the leading Apostles, and the principal tendencies of religion, — with Peter in his ecclesiastical zeal, John in his devout contemplation, James with his ethical exactness, and Paul, the late convert, with his dialectical force and systematic divinity; Augustine deserves a rank next to Paul among the dialecticians of the Church. Next to the Apostle of the Gentiles, he is leader of the illustrious band, who have meditated on sin and its remedy with the power of great intellect and the riches of deep experience, until their very logic has burned with eloquence and they have become the chief apostles of the doctrines most mighty in conversion. He is not of the stamp of Cyprian and Ambrose and Hildebrand, nor of Origen and Chrysostom and Fenelon, nor of Pelagius and Butler and Paley ; it is enough to say, that as a thinker he leads in the path where Calvin, Pascal, Leighton, Edwards, Chalmers have followed, whilst in respect to Christian experience he stands foremost among the Luthers and Bunyans of the Church.
Art. IV.- RETRIBUTION.
We are continually reaping the fruits of our past character and conduct, and we are continually sowing seeds, which in the following periods of our lives will bring forth sweet or bitter fruits. Each successive portion of life is intimately connected with all that have gone before it, and with all that will come after it. The present is what the past has made it, and, according as it is well or ill used, will essentially modify the suture. Neglected youth is followed by manhood without respectability, and wasted manhood by an old age of unhonored want. Dishonesty sooner or later brings forth the fruits of shame. Idleness results in poverty. Intemperance and debauchery lead to disease and pain, and end in premature decay and death.
This, we have reason to believe, is a universal law of God's moral government. It operates in the future life, as well as in the present. As the different stages of our mortal existence are indissolubly connected with each other, so is the life to come connected with this. This life is designed to be a preparation for that. As we have sowed here, we shall reap there. We shall experience there an exact and righteous retribution of our faithfulness or unfaithfulness here. This doctrine, the doctrine of future retribution, we propose briefly to illustrate and defend in the present article. It is going back, indeed, to the primary elements of our religion, but it is always well to recur to first principles. It may not be unprofitable to consider in what manner this truth is developed in the Gospel, and also to look at some of the consequences that follow from a denial of it, - in what light such a denial places this life and the life to come, in what light it places our responsibil. ities as immortal beings.
It is impossible, we conceive, to read the New Testament with an ordinary degree of attention, without perceiving that it promises eternal life on certain conditions. This fact necessarily implies, that eternal life will not be bestowed without a fulfilment of those conditions. Nothing can be more discordant from the prevalent tone of the Gospel on this subject, than the assertion, that the great blessing it was designed to bestow upon men, will be con
Language of the New Testament.
ferred upon them without any agency or cooperation of their own ; that its object is, to make men happy in spite of themselves. It is uniformly represented, that heaven is to be sought, to be striven for, to be won. It is the reward of care, forethought, watchfulness, endeavor. It is the result of a character and a life. It is said, that it may be lost; that there is danger of exclusion from it. We will cite a few specimens of this general tenor of the Gospel. We find some of them in the first discourse of our Lord that occurs in the New Testament, the Sermon on the Mount. We are there admonished, for example, “Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal.” Here a figure is borrowed from the care and labor with which men are accustomed to make provision for the future of the present life. Does it not imply, that at least equal endeavor is necessary to secure our wellbeing in the life to come? Is any encouragement held out to the expectation, that men will find treasures laid up for them in heaven, whether they have taken any pains to lay them up for themselves or not? In the same discourse Jesus says, “ Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father who is in heaven.” Here active obedience to the will of God, is represented as the condition of admission to Christ's kingdom. And a little farther on, we find expressly asserted, what, indeed, is necessarily implied in the words just quoted, that failure to comply with that condition will work exclusion from the kingdom; to those who have rendered him a mere lip-service, without true obedience, he will say, “I never knew you ; depart from me, ye that work iniquity.” And in the conclusion of that discourse, the man who rests his hope on any other foundation than obedience to the words of Christ, is compared to a man who built upon the sand, and whose house was overturned and ruined. In the parable by which the retribution that takes place under the Gospel dispensation is illustrated, the servants who had faithfully improved the talents committed to their trust, received high rewards, whilst the slothful servant, who had neglected to increase