« PreviousContinue »
Prophecy, in such sense as the word may bear when applied to uninspired thinking, can only result from the investigation of causes. Let me illustrate. In a naval engagement a skulker placed himself in that part of his ship which had just been pierced by a roundshot; he said, The ship will not be twice struck in the same place. Had he known that that spot was being aimed at as in the very line to the ship's magazine he would not have predicted safety, but would rather have prophesied intense peril to himself lurking there.
The gathering together facts, and facts alone, will lead to false prediction; the study of causes and of their causes will lead to truthtelling, soothsaying when that is in any way possible.
Perhaps the book before us will be already sufficiently reviewed when it is said to be certainly a volume of vaticination, and yet not of mere prediction.
There are facts adduced abundantly. They are taken from most diverse quarters: from Darwinian and other speculations come facts of opinion; competition, co-operation, and socialism furnish facts of sociology; grocers, railway companies, statesmen, the scientific arts, private and national benevolence, furnish illustrations and new materials for the induction. At the same time the constant endeavour is to discover, assert, and confirm a few grand principles, and thus to unify the apparently heterogeneous agglomeration of facts; in other words, to discover in them that philosophy of life which must be increasingly recognised as years develop tendencies into recognised and dominant laws.
Read the title-page and then the headings of some of the chapters!: "The Ultimate Triumph of Christianity," "Service a Mark of the Surviving Race," "Love of Self first induces Service," "Love of Self by Nature greater than Love of Service," "Christianity elevates Love of Service over Love of Self." These five phrases are more than titles, they constitute alone a treatise of more real value, perhaps, than whole shelves full of books on statistical and economical philosophy. Their theology is adverse to most of the Christianity of to-day, whose main aim is self, that self-seeking which is fitly named selfsaving, and the theology is true. Christianity will ultimately triumph because it affirms constantly that the service which men render from love of self is mortal, is affected by congenital and fatal disease. The religion of the Word of God must triumph, and can only triumph by the subjugation of that "Nature" which gives to the love of self supremacy over the love of service. The triumph of Christianity is certain, and is already secured wherever the love of service, that is, the love of the neighbour, displaces, as ultimately it will universally displace, the love of self.
Up to this point, however, the name "Christianity" is the apparently arbitrary synonym of the love of service. Is the name to be justified by its etymology? Is the ultimately triumphant religion to be merely the consecration of man by unselfishness, or is it to be vitally connected with a living Christ? To this question the author addresses himself in the second half of his valuable work. As we read we ask, Is he a New Churchman? so frankly does he affirm so many things that are affirmed in the New Jerusalem. In this concluding argument he, assuming a God, shows that the Infinite is revealed only in the Finite, and that consequently we must often distinguish between God as He is in Himself, and God as He is revealed to and known by finite intelligence.
Of God Himself, therefore, surely all we can say is, that as He is in Himself He is a mystery, and beneath the shelter of that word we must retire from the endeavour to make any direct approach to Him "who only hath immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto, whom no man hath seen or can see.”
The desire for a knowledge of God is not, however, to be lost by us, nor should it be put away from us. Mr. Field has a clear and firm faith in "Jesus Christ our Lord," but writing for others, whom he may lead to that faith, he reminds us that while the Divine in itself is thus hidden from us, and incomprehensible by our finite faculties, we can see, touch, feel, and to some extent comprehend that which He has created. There is a revelation of Him given by Himself in " creation," in the creation which lies exposed to the investigation of our senses, and especially in that which is subject of our consciousness, in that which, as it is ourself, specially deserves the name our creation.' This Divine self-revelation is the Word which He is uttering to us. It is, so to speak, the outer nature of the Eternal, a nature which is the express image of the inner nature of God-a Divine which manifests a hidden Divinity, a Divine which is the hidden Divinity so called, so masked, so veiled as to be clad with a persona which is apprehensible, to some degree comprehensible, by man. This finited manifestation of the infinite is by the author tentatively and provisionally called a Son of God, and this is offered us as a first and confessedly incomplete illustration of the words, "No man hath seen God at any time; the only-begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, He hath declared Him."
Here it is asked: "What do these words tell us? That if we can identify God' [or the 'Father'] in this statement with the mysterious Godhead itself, and the only-begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, with the nature [which] our study of creation leads us to
attribute to God, then this statement sets forth precisely the conclusions [that] science enforces from us."... The only-begotten Son . . is precisely His outer nature revealable to man, and which man endeavours to discover when he seeks for God." This is the Word which it was the one purpose of creation to speak to us. Accordingly it is to this Son of God, this Word from the beginning, that all men seek to have recourse, that by it they may know God. Such words as wisdom, power, and goodness, favourite words of all theists, are evidence that God is only known as revealed, and that the first and most widely recognised revelation is that in which the invisible things of God, even His eternal power and Godhead, are sought for in the visible things of the creation. But not here alone, in creation, is this Son of God recognisable. The ideas which men have of God, those ideas which have stood the test of varied experiences, and though tested, survive, are part of the self-revealing of God. Hence every religious teacher presents a finite image of the Infinite. Every Church, heathen or Christian, has, for its members, its chief value in being to them the formal revelation of the Unconditioned One. And thus every Church is to its adherents a larger and nearer form in which the Son of God can be perceived. Thus advancing, the volume culminates in the unfolding this proposition :
"That the Lord Jesus Christ lived a life, suffered a death, followed by a resurrection, which in its power to induce the true development of the heart of man, does not simply stand beside the Son of God [which] each man preaches, but sweeps together all other images of God and absorbs them, so that we may even come to see that all who advocate that which tends to the wise development of the race actually preach Jesus Christ and Him crucified."
We do not say that the attempt thus to construct from below upwards an argument to the Divinity of Humanity in Jesus is a success, or can ever be wholly triumphant. Mr. Field will, we think, admit that his faith is antecedent to such an argument, and could never be its consequence; yet such ratiocination is useful to some, and at this day may be pre-eminently so to many, as preparing them to read the Word with a readiness to submit to that influx which will lead the devout into the very truth.
In quitting with earnest commendation a work which so thoughtfully and eloquently shows that the human race can never attain here its highest development except by the doctrine of service as the highest law of life, and by that doctrine as revealed and exemplified in the Personal Divinity, the Son of God, we append one quotation, beautiful and noble, but not the finest that the work contains::
"Fear and love must be the two motives employed to train the human heart into that perfect self-abnegation which is needful before a Divine Society is possible.
"If now we believe that He who is the Creator of all, and in whose hand is all power and might-He whose terrible resolution in bringing to an issue His purpose is manifest in the crocodile and the tiger, in the starvation and disease which depopulates whole countries, in the murder and destruction which men hurl upon their brothers with all the refinements art and science can achieve, in the little child reared with blows and lovelessness to the sure goal of robbery and murder— if we believe the dread Creator and Ruler of the world, who, in working out His purpose, can permit evils so terrible, demands of us that we shall reverse the natural order of our birth, and select to love the race as superior to self, every possible motive which fear can induce will force us, little by little, age by age, with pain and struggle to serve the race before we serve ourselves.
"If now we identify Christ with the Son of God, we cannot doubt that God demands of us the most absolute elevation of service into the true business of our lives, because Christ preaches the duty of such service not only in word but in deed. If Christ be God the Son, God the Son does not simply bid us love our fellow-creatures above all, but inculcates such love by Himself displaying it, even to the endurance of scorn and crucifixion.
Regarding Christ as God the Son, we cannot doubt that He demands of His creatures to elevate the service of self. By this identification, therefore, all the compulsion the fear of crossing the will and purpose of the dread God can give is secured to force upon His creatures this perfect self-abnegation. But now if the Captain of our salvation, this Son of God, who comes in His Father's name to breed in the race the elevation of the service of others above the service of self which He and His Father demand, does not only preach woe to Scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, who make clean the outside of the cup and platter, but within are full of extortion and excess, but Himself exhibits to the full that service of the race which He and His Father require, we shall also have the power of love in its fulness brought to bear on the human race to enforce the forgetfulness of self before the service of others which He demands."
WORSHIP, AND THE ORIGIN OF ITS MODES. WORSHIP, as to its essential principle, is Adoration. This word, we are informed, has been framed to express the act of worship as it is performed in Eastern countries, amongst the pagans. In expressing their homage to their deities they lift the hand to their mouth, and kiss it. An allusion to this practice is found in the Book of Job xxxi. 26-28: "If I beheld the sun when it shined, or the moon walking in brightness; and my heart hath been secretly enticed, or my mouth hath kissed my hand: this also were an iniquity: for I should have denied the God that is above."
But the true Origin of worship itself seems to be in the constitution of man, as a recipient of life from God. Man can only be a conscious subject of life, in the reciprocative activity of it in himself. This activity is felt as his own proprium, or proper life. Now, when the Divine presence is more fully manifest in him than his own state enables him to reciprocate, he becomes conscious of a tremor; and as this increases, of prostration on his face, having no strength to stand. This state is described in Daniel x. 8-11: "Therefore I was left alone, and saw this great vision, and there remained no strength in me: for my comeliness was turned in me into corruption, and I retained no strength. Yet heard I the voice of his words: and when I heard the voice of his words, then was I in a deep sleep on my face, and my face toward the ground. And, behold, an hand touched me, which set me upon my knees and upon the palms of my hands. And he said unto me, O Daniel, a man greatly beloved, understand the words that I speak unto thee, and stand upright: for I stood trembling." Similar also was the state of St. John, as described in the first chapter of Revelation. After describing the glorious appearance of the Being like unto the Son of Man, who appeared unto him, and spake unto him, he says, "And when I saw Him, I fell at His feet as dead. And He laid His right hand upon me, saying unto me, Fear not; I am the first and the last." The like was also experienced by Peter, James, and John, when our Lord was transfigured before them on the mount. The Voice out of the bright cloud said, "This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye Him. And when the disciples heard it, they fell on their face, and were sore afraid. And Jesus came and touched them, and said, Arise, and be not afraid" (Matt. xvii. 5-7).
From these passages it may be seen that it is a nearer presence of the Divine than man's acquired state of the good of life can bear which produces trembling and prostration, and this is true humiliation