Imagens da página
PDF
ePub

and age.

Divine knowledge from it; it might eliminate more or less of error and imperfection from the natural knowledge of their agemore or less evil from themselves. After the gifted individual had fulfilled his mission, he would write out, for the instruction of mankind, whatever revelations or prophecies the Spirit had given through him, and a plain narrative of the supernatural events in which he had been instrumental. This narrative would not be conceived as specially dictated by the Spirit, but as a spontaneous one, in which the supernatural element would be viewed and judged of from the point of view of the individual

In the Messianic Period, the difference would be, that the working of the Spirit would then be conceived as regular, and the Divine element would consequently be in such preponderance as almost to exclude the human. The possession of these supernatural gifts would not be thought of as limited to the actual writers of the New Testament. On the contrary, they would be imparted throughout the Mystical Body wherever the Spirit saw fit. Only all the actual writers will be thought of as possessing a supernatural gift. They will be not only men who live in constant communion with God, but to whom is vouchsafed special and supernatural vision. Yet their narrative is conceived as their own peculiar production. The idea of an Epistle of S. Paul, for instance, is that of a man who writes to instruct the Church, and who for this end uses whatever natural and supernatural knowledge he may be in possession of.

We should be inclined to suppose, that the view here given is that which the Bible bears on the face of it. The occasion of the Book of Revelation, for instance, is thus related by S. John: I was in the Spirit on the Lord's Day, and heard behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet, saying, I am Alpha and Omega, the First and the Last : and what thou seest, write in a • book, and send it unto the Seven Churches which are in Asia.' The vision was vouchsafed by the Spirit—the writing of it was committed to S. John. In like manner, the preface to S. Luke's Gospel assigns, as the occasion of his writing, that it seemed good to him, having a perfect understanding of all things from the very first, to write his Gospel. This perfect understanding, as the Church believes, he would have both from natural and supernatural sources. Yet he is not conscious of any power constraining him and guiding his pen, beyond that free intellect wherewith God had gifted him. S. Paul, too, was a man possessing the Charismata of miracles, and visions, and revelations, yet he writes his epistles with the freedom and responsibility of a man. He writes as one who, on occasion, could give a direct

6

а

easy solution

answer from the Lord, and who could and did give his own opinion too, when not specially enlightened by the Spirit.

However, we do not wish to dogmatize in a case of so much difficulty. It must be for others to judge how far what we have advanced has any weight. Only we think it ought to be earnestly considered whether, in restoring the Bible to what we conceive is its natural position, we should not be raising it to a really higher and more authoritative one, than by retaining it in one which, as we humbly think, is unnatural. We must, too, , .

, take into earnest consideration the difficulties which a Dictation theory will have to encounter from modern criticism. These, as we think, are greater than most people imagine. We do not pretend to judge how far the answers which have or may be given will suffice to solve them; only, of one thing we are certain--if they are not perfectly successful, matters will be worse. On the other hand, in the view which we have ventured to advance, every possible objection of critics finds a natural and

While the supernatural facts of the Bible remain true and real, inaccuracies in human affairs, such as man is liable to, wrong conceptions of natural things, ideas appropriate to the age, even imperfect conceptions of God and Divine things, are easily accounted for. They are what we should

, have been led to expect on d priori considerations. We should have been led to expect, for instance, that Noah or Abraham would have less Divine knowledge, and judge more imperfectly of supernatural things, than Isaiah or Jeremiah. In short, we are prepared for the dawn of Divine light, beginning in the earliest times, gradually brightening with the lapse of time, till in Christ and His Church it attains to perfect day.

Should these views have anything solid in them, we should be prepared to advise that Catholic theologians should boldly accept the challenge of modern criticism. They have nothing to fear from the results of criticism. On the contrary, it has already been proved that a reverent and fair criticism has only served to confirm and put in more striking relief the fundamental facts on which the Christian faith is founded. It reveals the wondrous work of God's Spirit in His dealings with man. Only, we have a right to demand that this criticism shall be both reverent and fair. The assumption on which Neologians proceed, that all special and miraculous agency on the part of God is impossible, is simply preposterous. It is as absurd as would be the work of a man who should criticise the naval history of England on the supposition that sailing was impossible. Such a person might plausibly account, on natural principles, for the delusion of Nelson and his sailors in supposing that they fought the Battle of Trafalgar. But this is not the way in which

enter upon.

common-sense people would judge of the matter. Were they really convinced of the impossibility of sailing, they would have but one short word whereby to designate the whole story. And so it must be with the Bible. It professes to be, and is nothing else than, the history of God's special and miraculous dealings with men.

If that is impossible it must be set aside, and the whole question is at an end.

The controversy is thus thrown back upon the great philosophical question of God's Being and Action, which we do not

This only we may remark, that any theory of God's Being and Action which will exclude special and miraculous agency, will at the same time exclude a special Providence, and thus overthrow every vestige of religion whatsoever. It will also overthrow the Personality and Freedom of man. With whatever fine words it may be decked out, it is and can be nothing else than utter Atheism or Pantheism. But no Christian man need fear such a philosophy. The Personality and Freedom of God being presupposed, miraculous agency is possible; but the Personality and Freedom of God are inseparably bound up with the Personality and Freedom of man--the one stands or falls with the other. On this ground, therefore, we can take our stand. All men of sound and unbiassed mind are conscious of Personality and Freedom. They know it as much as they know the light of the outward eye.' We can appeal to every heart of man on this ground, certain of having an affirmative response. We can only have a negative one where the mind has been surrounded by a coil of cobwebs—reasonings of the logical understanding intruding upon ground where they are not valid.

We have now gone over the ground we proposed, very imperfectly. Nor do we know how far the view we have taken may commend itself to those entitled best to judge. Butif there appears to be any truth in it, there is one plain duty which must occur to every clergyman who values the interests of religion,—to uproot as speedily as possible from the public mind the Calvinistic ideas wherewith it is stocked. Ten or twenty years hence it may be too late. Supposing the results of criticism, which at present are confined to books, are scattered broadcast through the country and read by the people, the frightful consequence is not doubtful. The very earnestness and sincerity of the people of England will make matters worse. We know the consequence when the idea of the corruption of the Church first dawned upon the public mind. The abhorrence with which the people turned from it made the retention even of the essentials of its constitution doubtful. If by God's care and providence we retained these, we are still suffering from the lack of many things essential to its welfare. And so it will be with the Bible. If it once dawns upon the public mind that the ideas wherewith they have regarded the Bible are a delusion, in proportion to their previous veneration will be the intensity of the recoil. It may, too, be worth while for the politician to speculate upon this chance. Supposing the majority of Dissenting ministers, finding that Justification by Faith is no longer acceptable, have betaken themselves to the more interesting

topics of politics or social science,—will the art of government be easier ? It is, indeed, no problematic case about which we are speculating. In almost every country in the world, whatever of intellect Calvinism possessed has already ranged itself on the side of infidelity; and there are symptoms in the public mind which show that the same process is begun here. We can only trust that, with God's care and blessing, our country may be preserved from this awful fate.

61

A Long

ART. III.-1. The Bothie of Toper-na-Fuosich.

Vacation Pastoral. By ARTHUR Hugu Clough. Oxford: Macpherson. 1848. 2. Ambarvalia. Poems by THOMAS BURBIDGE, and Arthur H.

Clough. London : Chapman and Hall. 1848. 3. Poems. By Arthur Hugu Clough, sometime Fellow of

Oriel College, Oxford. With a Memoir. Macmillan and Co. Cambridge and London. 1862.

а

The name which appears at the head of this article, has during the past year made the round, so to speak, of our serial literature; the Edinburgh and Quarterly Reviews being, perhaps, the only periodicals which have not contained some account of the life and writings of the deceased poet. We are consequently somewhat late in the field, and our readers may be disposed to turn away from the discussion of a subject that has already been so amply ventilated. We would submit, however, to their judgment the consideration, that literary criticism, however able, does not exhaust the problems suggested by this name; that it may be possible to consider from a different point of view some of the questions mooted in connexion with it; and that if our way of looking at them shall seem to the world somewhat narrow and bigoted, it may not (and we earnestly desire that it shall not), in reality, be inconsistent with fairness or true charity

Of the critiques which have appeared, some are written from an acquaintance with Mr. Clough's poems only, some claim to proceed from intimate knowledge of their author. The present writer cannot pretend to anything like intimate acquaintance with Arthur Clough; but he was one of many who, though knowing him but slightly, watched with a deep interest his stormy and chequered career.

The chief outward facts of Mr. Clough's life may be briefly summed up as follows :—He was born at Liverpool in 1819; was educated at Rugby under Dr. Arnold ; won the Balliol scholarship at Oxford with singular éclat in 1837; obtained a second class in classical honours in 1841, and a Fellowship at Oriel in 1842. In 1848 he resigned his position at Oxford, travelled in France and Italy, and was living in Rome throughout the siege of that city by the French in 1849. Appointed to the Wardenship of University Hall, London, he found this

« AnteriorContinuar »