« PoprzedniaDalej »
hat the dogma ne ano
thhich them why doce when then do not thing debt, differencof
påraded as hostile to Christian faith, the mischief exists where the fallacy exists—whether it be in the facts, or in the reasoning, or in both. “No conclusion can be scientifically certain which rests on a part, and not the whole, of the real evidence.” If this primary axiom of all inductive philosophy had been loyally observed, we should have been spared the theories which develope Newtons from nettles, and Platos from polyps, and Shakspeares from shell-fish. And yet at this moment, in the words of Dr. Beale, “Men eminent among philosophers, chemists, physicists, geologists, zoologists, and physiologists, seem to be vieing with one another in trying to force the acceptance of the dogma that life is but a mode of ordinary force, and that the living thing differs from the non-living thing, not in quality, or essence, or kind, but merely in degree.”
“But is it not,” he asks,“ most remarkable, that, of the many great authorities who support the physical theory of life, not one has succeeded in explaining to us the difference between a thing living and the same thing dead? And if those who advocate this notion do not believe in the actual annihilation of force when the living thing passes into the dead state, why do they not demonstrate the form or mode which the departing life-force assumes ? Until this is done, the physical theory rests on no scientific basis whatever; it is a mere dogma, and, like other dogmas, must be promulgated by pure authority. Owen has lately avowed his belief in it; but unlike many of its advocates, he admits that 'on one or two points' proof is wanting.” Proceeding to examine some of the grounds of the Professor's qualified belief, the writer selects Professor Owen's dictum, that there is nothing peculiar to living things in their power of selecting certain constituents, because a magnet selects also. Nay more: death is not characteristic of living things only; for if the steel be unmagnetized, is it not dead ? “ Devitalize the sarcode (living amaba), unmagnetize the steel, and both cease to manifest their respective vital or magnetic phenomena. In that respect both are defunct.'”. To which he replies, that “there is no true analogy between the amoeba and the magnet. If the magnet moved itself from place to place; if it divided and multiplied, if every part of it were capable of moving in every direction; if it were able to select salts of iron, and then decomposed these and appropriated the iron to itself, so that from a very little magnet it grew into a big one, there would still be no real analogy between it and an amaba; because you can magnetize and unmagnetize the steel as many times as you like, but you cannot revitalize an ameba once defunct."'*
* Monthly Microscopical Journal, March 1869, pp. 178, 179.
tout unlike thority. Oike other Scientific bas until this is mode
Regarded as a sign of the times, it is a fact of no slight sig. nificance that a pbilosopher like Professor Owen should have accepted, as he has now accepted, the doctrine of the hourly formation of living beings out of inanimate matter by the conversion of physical and chemical into vital modes of force. Similar in their indications are these concessions of Professor Tyndall, to which we have already taken exception,-e.g., “Incipient life manifests itself throughout the whole of what we call inorganic nature;” and again, “Given this expansion, and given the necessary molecular data, and the chick might be deduced as rigorously and as logically from the egg as the existence of Neptune was deduced from the disturbance of Uranus, or as conical refraction was deduced from the undulatory theory of light.” How little warrant exists for language of this kind may appear from the opposite language of a physiologist so eminent as M. Claude Bernard*:-"In all living things there is a directing or creating idea, which takes up for itself from the material of the world what it requires for realizing or mani. festing itself. ... The action of the bone and the muscle may be explained by the mechanical analogy of the pulley and the lever, but you cannot explain the development of the egg in this fashion. The egg is but a promise of future mechanical phenomena; and how can we conceive matter which has for one of its properties the including in itself properties and mechanical functions which as yet do not exist ?!
Dr. Hooker confesses that there is a sea whose depths science may never sound; nor may she buoy its shallows, nor span its narrowest creeks. But the things impossible with men are possible with God. While proudly disregarding the light of revelation, philosophy can but stumble, even
“Upon the great world's altar-stairs
That slope through darkness up to God.” But the man who feels after the great Revealer “if haply he may find him," is not left to walk in darkness, but finds the light of life. In the glowing language of the Archbishop of York, “Before us is the fountain of creation springing forth in this darkness, and spreading down below into a myriad forms of beauty,-in the great plain where the lily grows and the lark hovers, and the skilful labourers are tilling the earth, or wend. ing home under the sunset with the load of purple grapes or of brown corn. It is a beautiful world, and wisely contrived, and as unlike its first wildness and barrenness as a mighty oak is unlike a round acorn. And within me is the idea of God. None but a will and a purpose can originate; none but
* “Physiologie Générale en France," p. 110, quoted in the Archbishop of York'g “ Limits of Philosophical Inquiry."
nature inci, there therocab
the wise can make things that show wisdom ; none but beneficence can make works of love ; none but God can have implanted the thirst to know God. You would withhold this idea from grasping this fact. Build, then, your barrier strong enough, for all nature in a flood will press against it on the other side. Here is the fact, there the explanation. The hand of God is here. 'Say not so; the vocabulary of science excludes that word: our system has no need of that hypothesis. But the hand of God is here. If we should hold our peace, the very stones would cry out. Out of the abyss into which light is coming, into which star after star new-created sends out its first beams, echoes that one word which you have proscribed in your pedantry, but which all we that follow nature more truly find musical and sweet: 'By the word of the Lord were the heavens made, and all the host of them by the breath of His mouth. . . For He spake, and it was done; He commanded, and it stood
Former Days not Better than These. A Sermon Preached
in Peterborough Cathedral, at the First General Ordination of the Lord Bishop. By A. S. Farrar, D.D., Professor of Divinity in Durham University, and Examining Chaplain to the Bishop of Peterborough. Published by request of the Bishop and Candidates. London : Rivingtons.
It is against our rule to notice single sermons, unless the author or the occasion have a special claim upon public attention. On these grounds we make an exception in the present case. The high office of the preacher as a Professor of Divinity, and his being Examining Chaplain to a Bishop, of whose usefulness in the Church bright hopes are entertained, and the occasion of the first ordination of that prelate,—all these circumstances give a special interest to the sermon before us. The text is Eccles. vi. 10, “Say not thou, What is the cause that the former days were better than these ? For thou dost not enquire wisely concerning this.”
The caution of the text is, we believe, rarely needed for young men. The bright enthusiasm of youth indulges rather in anticipation than in retrospect, and those anticipations are for the most part attuned to the triumphant tone of an advance in which they are burning to take a part, rather than to the minor key of distrust of themselves or of the Church's future.
The learned Professor had evidently selected a subject which
had exercised his own thoughts, and which was more appropriate to a company of elderly divines. We cannot but regret the loss of a precious opportunity of addressing young men on an occasion when their minds are peculiarly susceptible of lasting impressions. Surely, at such a time, one who holds the responsible office of Divinity Professor in a pre-eminently theological University, might have most fitly given a clear note of warning against the errors of the times, which might assist in guiding the aims and strengthening the efforts of those who, at such a time, must have listened in a humble and teachable spirit; or a clear definition of those everlasting outlines of truth which express the mind of Him who is the same yesterday, today, and for ever.
But in vain will the young deacon, eager to know the power which shall bend the wills, soften the hearts, and mould the lives of those among whom he is to minister, seek in this sermon for an answer to the question, “What is truth ?”
We can scarcely conceive a more perplexing and discouraging sentiment to an English student of divinity, however it may suit the meditations of a professor, especially if touched by Hegelian philosophy, than the following :
“We mark in their history one instance of the great law by which God is seen to unveil truth to the world. A man or a party sees a half truth, and pursues it to its extreme, pushing it so far that it verges upon error. The rival theory is next seen and pursued to its consequences by others. Truth is many-sided. The truths thus separated in one age are in the next combined into a higher unity. The truth held by each age, or taught by each person, is not unmixed truth, but a combination of truth with some element of error; the true element is retained, the error is rectified by the age which succeeds. Truth, therefore, in the way by which man attains it, is a residuum which remains after ideas have been submitted to the criticism of successive generations."
It must be observed, that the preacher is not speaking historically of the way in which the truth of the Gospel was discovered by those who professed to embody it in the Creeds of the Church, or in the Articles of Religion at the Reformation ; but he is speaking of the process by which truth is arrived at in the present day, and of various parties which are now in opposition to each other within the pale of our Church. Thus the young and anxious enquirer after truth is beguiled from seeking it in the good old way, in the standard of God's Word, by prayer for divine teaching, and a personal reception of Christ as The Truth: in which multitudes of the most eminent Christians, in all ages, have sought and found the pearl of great price. They are led away also from the Creeds and Articles of the Church, to seek for truth as a residuum from the con
flicting opinions of modern controversialists. We are willing to believe that the Professor will repudiate this inference from his statements. But it is nevertheless a fair inference for young men to draw, and we trust that we shall do the preacher the service of making him more cautious in future.
But the most remarkable part of the sermon consists in the tripartite division which is given of our Church at the present day, by which Dr. Farrar illustrates his theory of the Divine “plan of working out a great principle by means of a party," regarding each party “as an instrument in the hands of Providence in teaching one side of truth to our age.” The three parties are the Evangelical, the Tractarian merging into the Ritualistic, and the Rationalistic or Latitudinarian section, which is employed in the investigation of great scientific truths. The Evangelical movement is thus described :
“A torpid spirit benumbed the religious life of the Church (in the early part of the 18th century). Now, what were the in. struments, under God, which aroused the Church out of this lethargy? I answer, the dissemination of earnest personal religion through the labours of those who were called “Gospelpreachers;' the Methodists outside the Church, and those called Evangelical within it. These earnest preachers told men no longer merely of virtue, but of Christ; they brought men to feel that they inherit a corrupt nature and are deeply sinful in God's sight; they set forth the atonement of Christ as the ground of pardon from sin, and the grace of the Holy Spirit as the means to change unholy men into holy ones. And now, if these truths seem old to us; if they are commonly preached in every pulpit (though which of us dare say, as in the sight of God, that we even yet preach them as pointedly and as simply as we ought), we owe it to the preaching or the writing of clergymen like Simeon, and of laymen like Wil. berforce. We pause not to speak of their great social victory as well as their religious (the world owes mainly to them the emancipation of our slaves), nor of their apostolic missions and missionary martyrs. We are wishing now only to bring forward their spiritual influence at home. They were the means of unmasking the practical Pelagianism of their time. They preached the Gospel, the good news of salvation, in the best sense; they unveiled Christ to man; they unveiled man to himself; they taught a sinner how he might find a Saviour.” (pp. 10, 11.)
We cordially accept this generous testimony to the fruit of Evangelical religion in the Church. By a remarkable coincidence, the editorial article in this number has claimed for it the same praise, though in less glowing language. A little further on, the preacher says :
“We have no need to be discouraged, and look back with fond regret on a time a generation ago, when thought was at rest, and the waters of strife were calm, and there was not the ferment of the Vol. 68.-No. 377.