Imágenes de páginas

teaches that the constraints and terrors of the law remain to keep the flesh in subjection; what he says

grossed" them, for which I have to thank him. But he specialpleads against Luther, and in a way which no pleader could venture upon in a court of Justice. He presents his doctrines upside down-wrong side before. If we tear up the rose tree and place it root upward, with all its blossoms crushed upon the earth, where are its beauty and its fragrance?—if we take the mirror and turn its leaden side to the spectator, where are its clear reflections and its splendour?

By the bye it struck me that Mr. Ward, in his searches for Socinianism, after he had done demonizing the doctrine of Luther, slipped himself into something like heresy on the human nature of our Lord. His words seemed, (seem, for there they are still,) to imply that our Saviour had not, while upon earth, a human mind as well as a human body. He introduces the Godhead into the Manhood so as to destroy, as it seems to me, the character of the latter. Certainly Pearson and South, who were ever held orthodox on the Incarnation, and good Patricians, teach that our Lord, while upon earth, had the “finite understanding" of a man; that he "stooped to the meanness of our faculties;" and indeed it is evident from the language of the Evangelists, that they supposed Him to arrive at the knowledge of ordinary things in an ordinary way; to have grown in wisdom and knowledge, an expression not applicable to Omnipotence. If He foreknew all that was to happen to him in one matter, so Abraham and Isaiah foreknew the future. Doubtless He knew far more of the mind of God than they, even as a man. Perhaps Mr. Ward was led to this error, as I believe it to be, from following too heedlessly certain remarks of the Tract for the Times against Jacob Abbott. But surely it is a great and fundamental error to deny by implication, the real humanity of our Lordthat he assumed the very soul of man; which he must have done in order to redeem it;--a worse error than that of the Phantasmists, who denied his fleshly body. How he could be very God and very Man at the same time is an inscrutable mystery, but no less than this is the Catholic Faith of the Incarnation, and to deny it is the heresy of Apollinaris. Shall "Catholics" ration. alize away a mystery?

concerning conscience relates to sins that are past, not sins to come. He exhorts men to lay hold of Christ: not to let the sense of their ungodliness which aforetime they have committed make them doubt of his power to save them and purify their souls by the Holy Spirit. His reasons for insisting on this doctrine are obvious; it was to prevent men from trusting for the washing out of sin to penance, the fearful abuse, or rather use, of which he had witnessed. His doctrine is, that in those who are in a state of grace through a living faith, the flesh remains, and is to be bruised, exercised and kept down by the Law,-(be it observed, that by the Law he always means the Law viewed carnally or as a force from without)—while the spirit rejoices in God its Saviour, the conscience sleeping securely on the bosom of Christ. And surely, so far as we can contemplate man in a state of grace at all, having firm faith in the Redeemer and His power to save, he must be contemplated as free and joyful, confident of salvation notwithstanding the infirmity of his mortal nature, not paralyzed by the Law in the conscience or agonized by a fearful looking back upon sins that are past. Surely the conscience may sleep on the bosom of Christ, if it be really His bosom on which it is resting; that is, if we know that upon the whole our heart is set upon the things that are above we may safely cast our eye forward, in peace and gladness, hoping and striving through grace to live better from day to day; not backward upon the detail of our past transgressions, with a soul-subduing solicitude to balance them by penance exactly proportioned to their amount.

Luther affirmed that we must make a god of the law out of the conscience, but that in the conscience it is a very devil. Doubtless he had seen fatal effects of the

tyranny of the law in the conscience, had seen how, like the basilisk's eye, it benumbed the gazer, and prevented him from flying at once to Christ for pardon and purification and power to follow His steps; how it threw him into the hands of the priest, who, in those days, too often, instead of preaching faith in the Saviour and fulfilment of the law by faith, prescribed a certain set of outward observances, which never could take away sins, but which the terrified yet unrepentant spirit rested in, and substituted for general renovation. Looking at the Law in this point of view he called it with great force and truth the very diabolus, the malignant accuser, who by its informations and treacherous representations kept the soul separate and estranged from the Prince of Life. Bunyan has worked upon this thought powerfully in the Pilgrim's Progress, and he too makes the murderous Moses give way to Christ when He appears, and "depart out of the conscience." "Luther," says Mr. Newman contrasting him with the ancient Father, declares that "the Law and Christ cannot dwell together in the heart; Augustine, that the Law is Christ." Well! but what Law? Surely not the outward Law, which St. Paul declares dead for the Christian,47 which Luther declares incompatible with Christ, but the inward law, "the law of grace, the law of the law, the law of liberty, righteousness, and everlasting life," which Luther identifies with

47 I know not whether there remains upon the face of the earth any of that generation of Scripture interpreters, who were wont to affirm, that, when St. Paul declared the law dead, he meant only the ceremonial law of Moses! That such people existed in Bishop Bull's time seems clear from his taking the pains to refute the notion methodically. See Harmonia, cap. vii. Diss. Post. Oxford edit. vol. iii. 120-21.

Christ from first to last of his evangelical commentary. Luther's language on the exceeding difficulty of believing unto salvation, on the relics of sin that cling even to the justified, does but shew how searchingly, how earnestly he looked on these subjects-how hard he was to be pleased in matters that pertain to justification. Perhaps he should have taught more distinctly that all men are sinners and require the coercions of the law more or less. Still it was but the remnants of sin which Luther spoke of, when he said, prospectively, that sin should not be imputed to the justified." 48 His fault as a teacher was that he stuck too close to Scripture in his mode of expression, and repeated without explanation, or imitated too closely, its strong figurative language. But this doctrine of his that the enormity of sin must not make the sinner despair is no figure; it is literal Gospel truth. Though your sins be as scarlet they shall be as white as snow. Did Luther in all his strong language on the power of faith, that is of Christ dwelling in the heart by faith, go beyond this glad message of salvation? Blessed be his name for the courage wherewith he re-proclaimed a saving truth, which a self-serving, self-exalting clergy were putting out of sight-were hiding by the complicated superstructure of outward ways and means, which they erected upon it! Luther's a lax system!-No man will find it such who tries to understand and practise rather than to criticise it.

But the grand charge against Luther's doctrine re

48 See Commentary, chap. xi. ver. 17. "But it followeth not therefore that thou shouldst make a light matter of sin, because God doth not impute it;" and many other places in the Commentary.

[ocr errors]

mains behind. He is said to have separated saving faith from love.49 The anti-Lutherans are never weary of harping upon this string. Having failed to convict him of Antinomianism on one side—the denial of good works to Christians, they try to thrust it upon him on the other, to find it in his definition of faith. But after all where has he said, speaking analytically, that saving faith exists apart from love as a mere habit of the mind? "Luther confesses, in so many words," says Mr Newman, "that the faith that justifies is abstract fides as opposed to concrete, in Gal. iii. 10." But if we look at Gal. iii. 10, I think we shall find, that by abstract faith as opposed to concrete he meant faith

49 Mr. Newman in Lecture XI. argues that faith is not a virtue or grace in its abstract nature, that it is "but an instrument, acceptable when its possessor is acceptable." Faith apart from love is not a virtue, but this seems to be no proof that it is not a distinct grace; faith is not mere belief, though it includes belief; no one in common parlance would say, that he had faith in that which he merely believed. Faith is of the heart, not of the head only, or it is not faith. Nor can I think that it " differs from other graces "in that "it is not an excellence except it be grafted into a heart that has grace." Love, humility, meekness are all in the same case; abstract from these their direction, their object, and you leave a caput mortuum of mere human feeling. Love of God is excellent; love of man for God's sake, is excellent; but the mere adhesion of the soul to a certain object has no excellence in it. So humility, as a low estimation of ourselves is not necessarily virtuous; it is only a virtue when it arises from a clear view of our relations to divine perfection, -a clear view of the relative goodness of others, which the mists of self-love and pride are apt to conceal from our sight. Have we any natural good acts or habits of mind; do not all our affections require to be raised and purified by divine grace before they can be acceptable? To say the contrary is Pelagianism. Love is as little a virtue without faith as faith without love, for

« AnteriorContinuar »