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on the plea of enforcing religious consistency, further than this point, and brought him Chalmers saw to be, in a high degree, dan near sometimes to the making a protest not gerous, bringing with it, as it does, the most against certain peculiarities in the national fatal species of self-delusion. He knew, and theology, but in behalf of those counter he strongly felt, that Pharisaism, in every principles which it overlooks. age of the Church, has been the issue of Here again, there may be challenged for sectarian heats, and of the eager pushing out him, in the most ample terms, a loyal, a of principles into scrupulosities. If he had sincere, and a Churchman-like attachment to made himself more conversant than he ac- the “Confession;" for, if you ventured in tually was with Church history in its his presence to indicate any repugnance original sources, and with sectarian history toward the national creed, or toward any since the Reformation, it is conceivable that portions of it; his reply was prompt, and he might have resolved to come down upon emphatically Johnsonian: “ As to that, sir, this evil determinately, armed with his own we have no sympa hy with you.” We do thunder, and have followed it up to its not know that his writings contain so much source.
as a single passage, conveying an explicit Though he has not done this with set pur- dissent from those copious and elaborate pose, he has done something toward it canons of belief — the Westminster Confesincidentally; and in what spirit has he done sion and the Larger Catechism. If, as to it? Not scoffingly — not in a latudinarian some of these articles, he would have temper - not as the lax pleader for ques. worded them otherwise than they are tionable laxities ; - not like one who, if worded, yet never did he hesitate to stand you recede an inch, will encroach upon you to, or to subscribe them. We should, in å foot. No man has shown a more reverent his behalf, resent the supposition, that this regard than he toward whatever is tradition-adhesion was perfunctory merely; or that ary, whatever is of good repute, and what- it was given with any mental reservation. ever is believed to be of wholesome ten- Nevertheless, Chalmers' genuine religious dency. The quaint word, which occurs so instincts carried him forward at times where often in his writings -- " sacredness," stood his theologic reason refused to go on; or in his mind as the representative of a class where it stumbled in the path. There of feelings, upon the domain of which he were doctrines to which, in all sincerity, he would have been the last to make hostile in- made a customary obeisance as he passed ; trusion. It is certain then that this great but toward which when he chanced to look Christian teacher is one who may well be at them from a distance, he felt some intrusted — who may be confided in upon any voluntary misgiving. On a subject like question of Christian casuistry: we imagine this, where it is so easy to be misunderstood, that the most religious individuals of the and so difficult to convey a meaning that most religious of all countries, might give shall be at once distinct and inoffensive, we themselves up, without caution, to his should speak with all care. Chalmers did not guidance when ancient observances are in disallow (so far as we know) any one of the debate.
doctrinal elements of the Genevan Faith. To what extent, in fact, Chalmers' living But he felt, though he did not clearly appreinfluence, and his writings have had effect in hend the fact, that, as the articles which are breaking up, and in mellowing the religious the distinctions of that faith are worded soil of Scotland, we do not know, nor shall polemically, they are therefore, although we risk a conjectural answer to the question. true - true rather in a controversial sense But we may venture so far as to express of an age of eager and desperate contention, the opinion, that his Sermons, his Essays, than in a sense purely biblical. his Expositions, and his Institutes, might, to When Chalmers is contending with very good purpose, be looked into, and ex- “ infidel” opponents, he thinks he can never plored by the younger ministers of religion say too much about the “ Baconian Philoin Scotland, for the single purpose of gather-sophy;" and he strenuously insists upon ing into one the scattered indications which the application of its principles to the arguthey contain of his strong feeling and deep ment between himself and these “gainconviction on this subject — namely, the too sayers.” “We," who profess to be the determinative character of the Christianity well-trained disciples of Bacon and Newton, of Scotland; or that exterior rigidity which ought to hold ourselves bound by the axioms gives it an aspeet differing, by a shade or of Modern Science,” in all cases to which so, from the breadth, and the moral beauty they may apply; and to abide by the issue, of the Christianity of the Gospels.
be it what it may. Yes, indeed, so it ought But Chalmers mind and soul -- if not to be! But if so in fact it were— if always his logical faculty, carried him forward even Bacon's initial rule were brought to bear
upon the systematic theologies of the Refor. inexplicable on any known theory - what
How then should it be with our Biblical We must acknowledge that, in reading interpretations, if they were carried forward those passages in Chalmers' writings which in good faith, and in fearless compliance with we have now in view, a misgiving has come the guiding principle of our Modern Philosoover us. Quite right is he, as a Christian phy? We are not called upon to say how advocate, while contending with unbelievers; it would be; for we are not teaching Christbut, as a Christian theologian, is he not ian Theology ;-but we say these two things, liable to be slain by his own weapon? When both of which are pertinent to our immediate the time shall come -- and it will come subject ;-first, that Chalmers would have when the initial axiom of Novum Organum been less frequent than he was in his refershall be applied to the interpretation of ences to the “ Baconian Philosophy,” if he Scripture, as it has been applied to the in- had understood what would be its bearing terpretation of nature - then will Christian- upon those Reformation Confessions which he ity return upon the world in its power. still adhered to;
-and, secondly, that his The creeds and the confessions of the Refor- genuine religious feeling, and his instinctive mation era were, indeed, with scrupulous care, mistrust of dogmas which he saw to have an based upon the authority of “Holy Scrip- unchristian aspect, impelled him, on various ture," and, looking at them simply as they occasions, to border upon an expression of his stood related to the manifold corruptions of inward uneasiness. From certain doctrinal the twelve centuries preceding, they might neighbourhoods he always drew off :-at cerwell claim to be Scriptural. But in what tain spots he stood back :-he excused himmanner had they been framed? A certain self from advancing where his predecessors class of texts having been assumed as the had boldly rushed forward, and he did so on groundwork of Christian belief- then a the plea of the inscrutable mysteriousness of scheme of theology is put together accord- the subject; and he thought it enough to say, ingly, whence, by the means of the deductive that, at such points we are touching upon the logic, all separate articles of faith are to be boundaries between what is lawful and what derived. As to any passages of Scripture is unlawful in religious speculation. This is which might seem to be of another class, or true; and it is the proper course to be taken which do not easily fall into their places in by ordinary Christian teachers, in their statthis scheme, they were either ignored, or ed expositions of Scripture. But Chalmers they were controlled, and this, to any extent stood before his country in a position which that might be asked for by the stern necessi- would have warranted his pursuing an excepties of the syllogistic method.
tional course. A Christianity which should indeed be In what direction then might such a course INDUCTIVE — and not Deductive — which have led him forward ? should, in its methods of proof, be Baconian Not—and let us say it with emphasis-not - not Aristotelian, how unlike to any such in the direction which, to so little purpose, controversial canons of Faith would it ap- has of late been taken by distinguished men pear, and how unlike would it be! If Holy who have largely influenced the religious Scripture is to be heartily accepted as true mind in England and America. Chalmers throughout - and as trustworthy, and if it was not the man either to lead or to follow is to be followed as our sufficient guide in in this track; for there was nothing, in the religious belief - system or no system constitution of his mind, of the feeble and the then we shall take it just as we find it: petulant; there was nothing of vacillation, and we find it to be a specific testimony; nothing inclining him to resort to subterfuge, we find it to be a Revelation in part" - we or which could have stooped to equivocafind it to be a conveyance of certain need- tion; and, need we say it ?—there was in ful, but disjoined elements of Heaven's him no want of religious humility, or of deentire truth : -- it is such a conveyance as vout conscientiousness. Chalmers therefore will never yield itself to our plastic hand, had no qualification fitting him for the task, to be moulded at our pleasure into form, or inciting him to undertake it, of labouring even as we deal with a humanly devised to win over the philosophic unbelief of these philosophic scheme. In the world
of nature, times to Christianity by compromises and by as often as facts come before us which are large concessions. It was not in his moral VOL XXVI.
temperament-it was not within the range of of its manifold and multiform processes, and his intellectual faculties, to employ himself on such an implied acquaintance with the Inin the nice operation of chipping, and filing, finite and the Everlasting, that a great part and edging away Christian truths until they of our infidelity is based.” This is quite shall square themselves to their places in true ; but a thorough-going equity would modern philosophies. This man of deep con- demand that a counter-statement should be victions, and of high moral courage -- this attached to this allegation against infidelityTheologian, unfeignedly regardful as he was namely, that it has been upon a similar arroof the solemn obligations of a Christian teach- gance, and an arrogance less excusable, that er, could never have been induced to pay a “great part” of our Logical Theology court to Atheism, or to fawn upon antichris- has been based ; and especially those articles tian Deism, by showing that Christianity in this theology which have given a handle when “liberally interpreted,” means very to infidelity. little, or nothing more than this last, and that At page 26 of the same Prelection, Butit may (in the abstract) walk side by side ler's “meagre and moderate theology” is with the first.
called in question, on the ground of his atNot so. What then is it which we might tributing too much to human ability in spihave wished Chalmers to do more than he ritual matters. An apologist for Butler in has done? What is it which one who had this instance might retort upon the lecturer, his ear might have suggested to him to and affirm that the ultra orthodox are wont undertake? It was this :-we could have to “keep out of sight,” or to evade the force wished him to loosen by a little the tightness of those passages of Scripture to which their of those logical theologies which, framed as Arminian antagonists make their appeal. they were in a disputatious age, have now An exuberant or luscious orthodoxy is one the effect of debarring us from the free and extreme, of which the “meagre theology” fearless enjoyment of Holy Scripture-even of the moderates is the other extreme : our if the entire sense of every verse of it, protest is for Christianity derived from a whether it be consistent, or inconsistent, whole Bible. with our foregone conclusions. What we In many places of these Prelections, as need is not that minimum of belief which also of the Institutes, Chalmers expresses some ill-judging writers are now inviting us his faith in the doctrine of Necessity, and to accept ; but that maximum of belief which his unexceptive acquiescence in the “Essay an ingenuous submission to the entire mean on the Freedom of the Will." It is but ing of Scripture would give us.
justice to him to admit his high merit in This result Chalmers honestly and fervent- these instances-namely, that he renounces, ly desired, of which desire the indications and denounces too, all those inferences, are frequent throughout his writings; and to whether Atheistic or Antinomian, which a few of these we shall now make a reference. have been alleged to spring from that docBut he did not, as we think, clearly discern trine. Nothing can be more soundly pracwhat those hindrances are, connected with tical and wise than are the cautionary parasystematic, polemical, and logical theology, graphs which are appended to these avowals which stand in the way of our thus obtaining of his philosophic creed. This is enough, or possession of Christianity in its amplitude of should be thought enough, to screen this meaning.
sound-minded Calvinist from all criticism or It is not needful to classify the references remark. But if Chalmers had lived on to we are about to make. We note them just this present time, and if he had watched the as they occur in the three volumes now be course of religious opinion, he would have fore us-namely, the ninth of the PostHUM- seen that a sophism so irrelevant as is that ous Works, which we first take up; and the of Jonathan Edwards, has already had its first and second.
day; and that it is now coming to be reIn the Prelection on Butler's Analogy, garded simply as a signal instance of an inpage 4, the lecturer affirms, as well he may, genious and astute abstraction - parallel that “it is immensely arrogant in the crea- with the nihilism of Hegel, and which distures of a day to pronounce of the Unseen appears, as a mist, when human nature and Everlasting God—that He never does, comes to be treated of, not logically but or can act in a particular way--that He physically, and as a reality in the great never has adopted, and never would adopt, world of life. such or such a method of administration;" When Chalmers eulogizes Butler, as he and yet, as he affirms, “it is on an implied does so warmly, comparing the service acquaintance with the principles of the Di. which he has rendered to Christianity, with vine government, in all the vastness of its ex- the service rendered by Bacon to philosotent, and throughout all the endless variety phy, as at page 76, he sets forth what we
are perfectly sure was his genuine feeling, (matter in hand; or perhaps, as proving the and what would have been his explicitly ex- very contrary? pressed conviction, as to Biblical Interpre Again, we have ventured to affirm of tation--namely, that it should pursue its Chalmers' doctrine of the Inspiration of the course—regardless of systematic theology Scriptures, that it is crude, inadmissible, unregardless of Confessions of Faith. This intelligible. This is not all; for it is such would have been his deliverance on the sub- that, if it be insisted upon, we must needs ject; and we give him credit for it, often give in to the frivolous cavils of writers like and again, where we do not find it, in words, F. Newman, and most admit them to be on his pages.
conclusive against the Divine origination of In the Prelection on Paley's Evidences, the Bible. Let the reader consider the enwe beg to direct the thoughtful reader to the tire paragraph, page 174. If we misunder Lecturer's cautious observations at pages stand the lecturer, we shall gladly acknow106, 107; they curiously exemplify the un- ledge the error. The affirmation that “Marconscious influence of a speculation, already cus was sister's son to Barnabas," is there authenticated on the side of orthodoxy, in allowed to be one which is wholly unimporchecking the course of a speculation to which tant in itself, as related to our religious state Scripture itself gives more than a shadowy of mind :-Nevertheless
, a rejection of it (or support.. We ask the reader, whom we are hesitation in admitting it--"the want supposing ourselves just now to have at our this belief) may indicate another want of call, to look at page 129, as an instance of fearful magnitude and effect, for it may indimingled caution and honesty, in treating the cate "the want of a full and settled faith in subject of Reward; or, as we should say, Scripture.” Herein comes out the dangerous the rewardableness of good works under the consequence of an assumption which is unChristian economy. On this ground, where warrantable in itself, and which is not only the polemic theology of the Reformation has liable to be broken up in the course of a made such awful havoc of the plainest Scrip- young man's critical studies, but which inture teaching, Chalmers shows that he had a evitably must be broken up at an early stage sense of the mischief; although he had no of his acquaintance with biblical criticism. It clear discernment, either of the source or of is painful to think of the case of a timid and the extent of it. When we shall have conscientious student, who, having yielded wound up our controversy with Rome, we himself without question to the guidance of may feel ourselves free to listen to Bible such a teacher as Chalmers, meets with evievidence, as it stands, without abatement, dence-irresistible evidence—which must on this and other subjects. That this inde- lead to his coming to doubt the truth of a pendence—this freedom from the entangle- Biblical assertion, like the one above menments of by-gone polemics, was ardently de- tioned. Is it not high time that we should sired by him, and that he looked forward to know what we mean when we affirm that an era when it shall prevail, there are many the Bible is God's book? We think we do bright evidences in the course of his writings. not misunderstand Chalmers; and, in supWe have now before us page 169, to which port of our supposition as to his meaning, a special reference ought here to be made; we refer to a passage on page 188, beginning, but which we need not cite.
“ There are articles of information in ScripTwo pages forward, a passage occurs ture." If once we yield ourselves to this which also claims a word of notice. We tremendous dogma, that a Christian man's have ventured to designate this great man's safety for eternity is put in peril by his enterorder of mind as unexplorative and non-cri- taining a doubt of the historical accuracy of tical. In the place now in view, he urges the canonical books in any single instance, his Class to the use of the Shorter Catechism, then, what is his position ?—what is his aland the Confession, and the Larger Cate-ternative? He must, with alarm, put far chism-as presented in those editions which from him every means and material of bihave the Scripture proofs at length. This ad- blical criticism; he must cease to read and vice cannot be found fault with; but, when to think, and then how is he to rebut the taunts given from the chair, it would seem to ask of the infidel who says_“You hold to your for an accompanying caution ; for how can Bible in wilful blindness :-you dare not inthese Scripture proofs be now accepted, at form yourself concerning its contents." We large, as proofs of the doctrines stated at the do not know in what way Chalmers would top of each page, when—if the unquestion- have reconciled his own doctrine of Inspiraable methods of our modern criticism be ap- tion with his own often-repeated exhortations plied to them, very many of these citations to his class——to prosecute biblical criticism. must be rejected as utterly irrelevant to the We have looked through chap. ix, in the
Institutes, in which so much is said in com- Christi in æternum sit duraturum ?" It mendation of critical proficiency—supposing might have been further to the credit of that that a paragraph might therein occur, throw- Church, if, in her “wisdom," she had, like ing some light upon this difficulty, but have her sister, and like the ancient Church, ab not found one. The question does not seem stained from any deliverance upon subjects to have presented itself to the mind of Chal- which are still less cognizable by the human mers in any distinct manner.
mind! In that chapter of the Institutes, as indeed Chalmers, as a wise ruler in the Churchthroughout the writings of this large-minded as a man of action, conversant with human champion of the truth—such unquestionably nature, and singularly gifted with tact for he was—we are met, far too frequently, dealing with its weakness, has shown himwith those terms of reprobation and scorn, self ready enough to rid Scottish Christianity applied to “infidels," "heretics," "gain- of its scrupulosities and its formalities; and, sayers," which have come down from a fu- in several places that might be cited, he has rious and fanatical era, and which, so long proved himself to be master of an enlightenas they are indulged in by teachers and led forbearance with each other in the cirwriters of repute, will not merely serve to cumstantials of worship; in contrast with foment the worst passions, and to indurate the “furious intolerance and zeal which chathe narrowest prejudices, but will effectively racterized, and, at the same time, disgraced shut out from the view of " the orthodox” a former age, "-p. 231. All that we would of “us, who are in the right,” those inveterate have asked of him, as due to his own eninfatuations, those overweenings of personal largement of mind, would have been thisarrogance, which still stand in the way, as to lead the way in delivering his country at they have so long stood in the way, of an once from a false intensity of feeling in mathonest and ingenuous acceptance of the en- ters of worship and observance, and from tire sense of Scripture. In a page now be- the dogmatic arrogance of that same past fore us—215, of the notes on Hill's Lectures, age of « furious intolerance." These words there is an admission that the tendency to are his, not ours. We should refer to pp. indulge lawless speculation, whence have 394, et seq., as relating to the same subject. sprung heresies, has “misled even the Church We have alluded to the bearing of Chaland the orthodox into lamentable extrava. mers' writings upon the three Theologies, gances of speculation, and laid open the which now stand in view of our British whole subject of the Trinity, in particular, Christianity — namely, the superannuated with its cognate and correlative topics, to Logical, the modern Philosophical, and the the ridicule of the profane, to the merciless future Biblical. Toward the first, he exsatire and severity of the infidel." True, hibits himself as personally undergoing indeed, but it is a part only of the truth. the process of clearing himself of its tram
Expressions such as the following--p. 217, mels. He is seen to be working himself do not suit our taste; they grate upon the forth from the slough. Toward the second, ear:-"But while I prefer this charge against he shows a determined hostility, and he many of the heretics, I cannot acquit the would have denounced it still more loudly Church altogether of blame in the matter than he did, if he had lived on to these either.” Now we would venture to trans- times. As to the third, although we do not pose the terms of this admission in some see that he had come to any determinate such manner as this" But while we prefer perception of those principles of interpretathis charge against the Church (that of at- tion whence it must spring, it is certain that tempting to be wise above what is written) his heart was right toward it. He would we cannot acquit the 'heretics ' altogether of have hailed it with all his soul if it had been blame either." Chalmers' candour in this fairly presented to him for his judgment and and similar instances resembles that of some approval. As our warrant in so confidently modern Romanists, who, when alluding to saying this, we refer the reader to the closthe intolerance and the ferocities of pasting paragraphs of book iii., pp. 232–3, and times, are generous enough to say, "While still more pointedly to the long paragraph we prefer this charge of truculent intolerance which fills page 297, and again to page 312. against Lollards, Huguenots, Puritans, and The scheme of doctrine which Chalmers the like of them, we cannot acquit the describes and denounces, p. 257, et seq., Church of Rome altogether of blame either." under the designation of the Middle SysVery candid are such admissions !
tem," agrees, to some extent, with the more P. 221.-" It is to the credit of the wis- recent development of the same tendencies dom of the Church of Scotland that, in its in England, and which we have referred to Confession of Faith, there is no deliverance above as—“Modern Thought." This chapupon the subject-an regnum mediatorium ter therefore may be taken as containing,