« السابقةمتابعة »
by the latter, and the latter being
as the fruit; the former being known cally obsolete; so much so, that a clergyman may preach two dozen sermons, and print a book of five hundred and fifty pages, and never once entangle himself in such unprofitable labyrinths. Even in alluding to "the character as well as the precepts of our Divine Teacher,” where we might have thought it was difficult to go far from truth, Dr. Maltby contrives to miss half of it, and not the least important half. Is Christ nothing more than an Example and a Teacher? Is the Cambridge student to leave out one half of the collect which speaks of Him as both "a sacrifice for sin," and "an example of godly life?" Is the Prayerbook as obsolete as the Bible?
Lest we should still be thought to form our estimate from a few isolated sentences, we copy another passage, from another academical sermon, the eleventh; in which the author is discoursing on the parable of the Pharisee and Publican. The passage is to the same effect as the above description of theology.
"Upon the young would I enforce the
most serious attention to the lesson con
veyed in the text.-Christians let them be; Christians of the church, in which they have been so tenderly reared; but Christians they may be, and conscientious members of the church, without perplexing themselves with the niceties of scholastic theology; and without departing from that soberness of mind, and benevolence of heart, which are as much the ornaments of youth as they are the concomitants of real religion. Let them weigh well all the evidences of our holy faith; let them learn to appreciate the sublime simplicity of the evangelical historians, and look with admiration to the character as well as precepts of our Divine Teacher.
them be content with these acquirements, till, profiting by the opportunities here afforded for the attainment of sound learning, they be qualified to enter the spacious field of Scriptural criticism." pp. 211, 212.
We fear that Dr. Maltby's notions respecting the inspiration of the Holy Scriptures are as defective as his views relative to their modern application. Speaking, for example, of the four Gospels, in Sermon XII., he says, "Two of the Evangelists were eye-witnesses of the circumstances which they have described: the others collected their materials from sources of undoubted authority." But was there nothing more than this? Was there no inspiration from above? Did they collect their materials merely as other historians collect theirs? Did they do no more than "satisfy the pious curiosity of the first converts, and provide for the edification of future ages?" Was no better epithet to be found to describe their inspired pages than that of "venerable writings?" What may be Dr. Maltby's own opinion of the nature and extent of Divine inspiration in the sacred canon, we shall not undertake by the cursory data of these sermons to ascertain; but sure we are that the flock at Buckden would not derive very exalted views of it from these discourses.
Here, as before, Christian doctrine, as distinct from evidences, history, and the personal character and moral precepts of Christ, is kept out of sight; or, rather, is grievously disparaged. The student is not to read his Bible that he may learn the doctrines of grace and the way of salvation; this is a speculative matter, to be reserved for future years of critical research-for instance, if he should have occasion to preach a university sermon-but even then with the constant recollection that these things are practi- plusage in this and similar passages.
In this same sermon the author complains of those who attribute every action, and consequently every meritorious action, to the operation of Divine and uncontroulable influence." There is much adroit sur
The author meant really to complain of those who attribute every meritorious action to the operation of Divine influence;" but, in order to render the holders of this doctrine the more obnoxious, he introduces the words, "every action," and "uncontroulable." Now a man of Dr. Maltby's reading and information must know, first, that the divines whom he censures do not attribute "every action," as distinguished from what he calls every meritorious action," to the operation of Divine influence; for they expressly teach that God is not, and cannot be, the author of any sinful action: and, secondly, that with regard to those actions which they do attribute, and justly, to Divine influence, though they do not arrogantly call them "meritorious," they use no such epithet as "uncontroulable;" for, on the contrary, they constantly teach that God "makes his people willing in the day of his power;" and they believe what they assert in our Article, that he "gives the will, and works with us when we have the will." Divested, therefore, of this not very correctly or charitably interjected surplusage, the complaint comes simply to this: That certain teachers attribute every meritorious action "—rather, they would say, every action which flows from faith in Christ and love to God-" to the operation of Divine influence." And to what does Dr. Maltby attribute such actions? To the strength and moral goodness of man, by which he renders himself "worthy" of Divine grace, and opens the golden portals of heaven with his own key. It is past conjecture to us, how Dr. Maltby, when he performed that "meritorious action" of devoting himself to the sacred ministry, could answer it to his conscience to declare that he was "moved by the Holy Ghost;" or how he can so countenance the perversion of "the terms faith and grace," as to use them as they are still employed in our antiquated church formularies. This doctrine, of attributing good works to the in
fluence of the Holy Spirit, he considers " calculated to sap every moral quality;"-in short, there is nothing too severe to be said of it. thing, however, is abundantly clear, that Dr. Maltby can never in conscience become an English prelate, as the newspapers affect to report, since his whole volume is opposed to the declarations of the Consecration Service, in which he would be required to take a solemn part. That service is constructed throughout upon the very principles exploded by him, especially in reference to "the operation of Divine influence." He would be constrained mentally to interpolate almost every sentence, after the following fashion: "Most merciful Father, we beseech thee to send down upon this thy servant thy heavenly blessing [that is, may he make himself worthy of it]; and so endue him with thy Holy Spirit [forgive the involuntary use of fanatical words, calculated to sap the root of every moral quality], that he, preaching thy word [that is, eighteen books of it out of sixty-six, and these only partially, for the sake of their moral precepts, discreetly omitting all matters of antiquated doctrine], may be earnest to reprove, beseech, and rebuke with all patience and doctrine [only let him beware of reproving the rich in the obsolete language of Scripture; or of exercising patience towards fanatics who misapply "faith and grace," and depreciate the meritorious dignity of good works; and judiciously reserve all his rebukes for those who devise "a moody and mystical system of religion," such as that in our Prayer-book and Homilies, but which is far in the rear of a philosophical and enlightened age].
It is painful to us to write thus; but we have commenced our task, and must honestly go through it. We wish we could think that we have exaggerated.
What, we have seriously asked ourselves again and again, while perusing this volume, is Dr. Maltby's real view of the nature or the utility of Christianity? We have found it
difficult to answer this plain question; and those passages which seem to shed some light upon it go no further than to assert that the Gospel has improved the code of social virtue. For example:
"What then are the blessings conveyed by the Gospel, which in the language of prophets and of angels, was hailed as the turning of darkness into light, the visiting of a day-spring from on high,' the earnest of peace on earth, and good-will towards men?' What, but to fix these very principles-[the principles of moral virtue, the laws by which men are bound to one another, and by which they ought to regulate their own behaviour-upon an immoveable foundation; to establish them with irresistible authority; to enforce them by the most cogent motives? To give effect to this gracious intention, to avert the sad consequences of previous ignorance and error; to convey the most awakening intimation of the necessity of wiping off the pollution of moral guilt, the Son of God condescended to take upon him our nature, and to suffer death upon the cross." p. 319.
And was this all? Were the incarnation and life and death of Christ intended only to shew us that we ought to endeavour to cleanse ourselves from the pollution of moral guilt," whatever may be meant by that phrase? Was there nothing
sacrificial or vicarious in the cross of Calvary? No; that would be an exploded Jewish notion, derived from the days when men were ignorant of true philosophy. The death of Christ was not intended to "wipe off" guilt or pollution; but only to shew us that we ought to wipe them off for ourselves by worthy conduct. And thus all the sublime apparatus of two dispensations of the Divine manifestation is resolved into a mere improvement in the laws of social virtue. We could not point out a more extraordinary instance of inconsequential bathos than is presented in the passage last quoted. What, says the author, are the blessings of Christianity, blessings rapturously hailed by prophets and angels, as the turning of darkness into light, and a dayspring from on high? They are, the fixing of the principles of moral virtue! just making up the deficiencies of Seneca and Plato! And
for this, and for this only-not to atone for sin, or to regenerate mankind by his Holy Spirit," the Son of God condescended to take upon him our nature, and to suffer death upon the cross!" In what sense Dr. Maltby is pleased to call Christ" the Son of God," he does not see fit to explain; but we are quite sure
that the manner in which he alludes to his offices is not such as would indicate him to be a Divine Person in the Tri-une Jehovah. There is not a passage in these volumes from which we should dare to assert that
Dr. Maltby so believes; and his allusions to the person and offices of Christ fall even below those which may be found in the writings of avowed Arians and Socinians. Does
he think it a compliment to speak of our Lord's "ingenuous and dignified conduct?" We do not; we think it a virtual disparagement. Would
any man speak thus of a Divine Being?
Dr. Maltby, as we have seen, does not conceal that he regards Christianity only as an instrument of moral utility. All beyond this, he plainly intimates, is fanaticism.
"Sure I am that, if the zeal and industry, which have so long been exerted in religious contention, were directed to the study of the practical excellencies of Christianity, religious truth, and together with religious truth, social happiness would prevail more speedily and more extensively. That spirit of inquiry, which is now exhausted upon subjects, doubtful or unprofitable, would be wisely and hap
pily directed to researches of acknowledged utility." pp. 321, 322.
Our readers cannot but have remarked, in several of the foregoing extracts, the dexterous use of terms, by which Dr. Maltby would disparage doctrinal Christianity without expressly using words that might wound the ear. Who would stand up for "religious contention," and "exhausting inquiry upon doubtful or unprofitable subjects?" How much better to turn to "practical excellencies," and "researches of acknowledged utility?" This sounds smoothly: but when the real meaning of it comes to be ascertained by colla
tion with the whole of the work, we
It were endless to go through the
exceptionable passages in this volume; but, as before stated, it is not individual passages palpably exceptionable that are in reality so injurious, as the negative character of the work, the utter absence of any thing that can be construed into a direct avowal of many of the fundamental verities of the Christian faith; the mere philosophical moralizing, instead of Christian preaching; the determination to know almost any thing rather than Jesus Christ and him crucified; even condescending to instruct and entertain an audience with a dissertation on "the usefulness of labour," eked out with an appeal to Miss Edgeworth's novel of Ennui," but without any thing to bring man nearer to Christ or Christianity.
But there is one sermon which we ought not to pass over; the sermon on the penitent malefactor on the cross. The manner in which a preacher handles that interesting narrative is a tolerably correct index of his theology; whether, on the one hand, in his intended advocacy of moral virtue he disparages the sovereignty of God and the free grace of the Gospel, and makes a pharisaic sermon from a penitential text; or whether, on the other, with a view to set forth more strikingly man's impotence and misery, and God's power and mercy, he overlooks the very peculiar circumstances of that case, and perhaps furnishes, however unintentionally, some apparent we mean not justplea for the neglect of repentance. Now, what says Dr. Maltby of this narrative? Why, that it has "been adduced to strengthen the very unscriptural notions, which certain enthusiasts have formed, of the unconditional mercy of God, and of the certain and immediate effect attendant upon professions of belief."
This is not a correct or fair way of stating what this memorable narrative has been adduced to shew; that is, by the class of divines against whom in fact the whole of this volume 4 D
is shotted and pointed. Some wild Antinomian, as we before said, may have uttered much that is very exceptionable on this and other subjects; and if this be all that Dr. Maltby meant, we should have no cause to complain of his remarks. But his animadversions dip far below this stagnant surface; and penetrate to the deep clear waters of Scriptural truth itself, which spring from the fountain of Divine Inspiration, imperturbed and unpolluted by the trifles and sordities that are cast by the hand of erring man to float upon their eddy. If Dr. Maltby's objection mean any thing worth meaning, it is, that "the story of the penitent thief" is often adduced to strengthen what he considers the unscriptural and enthusiastic doctrine that the mercy of God to fallen and sinful man is wholly gratuitous, being freely offered, in Christ Jesus, to all who are willing to receive it by a true and lively faith. Dr. Maltby, we repeat, if he means any thing worth meaning-any thing that really applies to the actual facts of the state of religious opinion in our Church-must mean, that the doctrine that "we are accounted righteous before God only for the merit of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, by faith, and not for our own works or deservings," is not, as our Eleventh Article calls it, "a wholesome doctrine," but that it is "unscriptural," "unwholesome," and credited only by "certain enthusiasts." Why then not fairly avow this meaning? Why not at once level his protest against his own Church, against the whole letter and spirit of her Liturgy, and Articles, and Homilies, rather than wound her and shield himself under the plea of attacking only "certain enthusiasts?" Why not openly say, that by the equivocal phrase "unconditional mercies
of God" he does not mean to refer merely to what some divines call, whether rightly or not, the terms of the covenant "-namely, repentance, faith, and the fruits of faith
but that he means, in addition to this, to assert the necessity of certain antecedent conditions,—the condition of " merit," of being "worthy," of "deserving God's approbation; and to deny the whole of the dogma of justification by faith; the free grace of God in Christ, to man a sinner; in short, almost every thing connected with the Fall and the Atonement, with faith and grace, with regeneration and sanctification? Why in honest manliness recur to the use of good set terms, to say covertly what it would be more straight-forward to utter in plain language? Instead of the adroit but most incorrect periphrasis, "professions of be. lief," why not say at once, "faith in Christ;" and instead of "certain and immediate effect," say, justification before God? This would only be putting the author's meaning into intelligible words. Dr. Maltby, we feel assured, cannot deny this: he cannot assert, that, though he did not venture directly to say that the doctrine of justification freely by faith was "unscriptural," and worthy only of "enthusiasts," yet that this was not really his meaning; that the doctrine reprobated, for decency's sake, under the wellsounding phrase of "the unconditional mercy of God, and the certain and immediate effect attendant upon professions of belief," was not one of those which are found in the Articles of the Church of England, and, if the Epistles of St. Paul were not obsolete, in them also.
Our readers may wish to know what, in Dr. Maltby's view, were those conditions which rendered the thief upon the cross so peculiarly
worthy" of being admitted at the eleventh hour to a state of justification. Why, truly, that our Lord discovered in him "incontestable signs of a capacity for moral improvement! that "he made a brave defence of the injured!" and that "good seed" had been sown in his mind; although that seed, from various misfortunes [the misfortune