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It is the law of descent therefore, bringing accumulated evil, and furnishing the proclivities to sin, which is the occasion of man's degradation, and which makes regeneration necessary. But the same law is beneficent, for good disposition and proclivities to virtue are by its operation also transmissive; and not less efficient for the soul's deliverance from evil, than for its degradation, it makes regeneration possible. Mr. Sears unfolds, at considerable length, the beneficent operation of the law. He vindicates it as essential to the existence of society, and as the principle by which it emerges from barbarism, into the highest forms of life.
“We vindicate the law of transmissive qualities and proclivities as essential to the permanence and the very existence of society. Unless the peculiar genius and dispositions of parents were produced anew in their descendants, through successive generations, what would humanity present but a mass of heterogeneous and discordant atoms? Societies, states, and nations could not be formed out of them and perpetuated. Society is the collective man, having a unity of its own, existing not only in a given locality, but through indefinite periods of time; hav. ing, like the individual, a development of its powers from youth to maturity and age; having a work to do on the earth ; having schemes of improvement to be formed and matured through a series of generations. In order to this, the peculiar loves, tastes, and aptitudes of the fathers must ever be produced anew; the past must ever live in the present; the spirit of ancestry must go down in unbroken line to a remote posterity. The children cherish the memory of the fathers, inherit their life, and take up the work they left to make it over in turn to a new generation. Thus, while the individual is weak, society is strong. The individual is ephemeral, but society is immortal. The individual can do comparatively nothing; society accomplishes works of skill and grandeur which are the wonder and the charm of ages. • . The law of descent in its beneficent operations is the grand principle of organization by which humanity rises out of barbarism into its loveliest forms of life and beauty. Around this are formed, first families, then states and empires, then races, then a humanity full and complete, organism within organism, with all their interdependences and interactions, each homogeneous in itself, and operating for the good of all, forming together a human race that develops all the forces of human nature, and reflects in every possible way the charms and glories of the Divine. Such may it one day become. And the law of descent is an ever-recurring security, that society shall not be subject to violent and destructive changes. Like the individual, its improvement and renovation shall not break
the continuity of its being. Even if it be on a course of deterioration, it shall decline and be dissolved with the least possible of individual suffering and ruin. But let that law cease by which generation links to generation, without which there is no hearty love and reverence of ancestry, without which the fathers cannot live in the future nor the children in the past, and society, if it could exist at all, would be always in a whirl of revolution. Every reform would be a destruction and a re-creation out of ruin, if, indeed, there could be enough of elective affinity among the chaotic atoms for any reconstruction to become possible. Every important change would be by dissolving the fabric into the dust and powder of individuality.'” (pp. 60-62.)
It is the frequent mistake of Unitarians to treat the subject of regeneration too subjectively. They describe man's work in effecting the result with great distinctness; but here they virtually leave the matter. In Dr. Channing for instance, we seldom find anything referred to God or to any outward source. Man saves himself, and no being or influence other than himself assists him. In human salvation, God might as well not be, for the theory to which we refer does not permit him-does not give him opportunity, to be of any service. We are glad to perceive that Mr. Sears has not been misled by the course of his predecessors. We quote the following with much satisfaction.
“The declarations of Scripture which describe God as acting upon man and working in man, naturally arrange themselves into two general classes. In the first place, they set forth the doctrine most distinctly and unequivocally, that God works in all men; that his is that universal and incumbent spirit by which all minds, whether Christian or heathen, discern a power above and within themselves, an everlasting law that lies upon them and seeks its realization in all their voluntary actions. This eternal spirit, whether transfused through nature and making all sensible things to copy out the eternal mind, or whether coming directly from within, has the same end, to woo the human spirit to itself.” (p. 73.)
In accordance with this recognition of God's intervention and co-operation in the work of regeneration, our author takes occasion to record a formal dissent from what, if we do not misjudge, is a common practice with his brethren.
“Let one start, then, with the assurance that moral excellence is self-development out of an original fund of goodness deposited in human nature, the exercise of an independent faculty of his own. It results inevitably from this, that all culture will start from self and centre around it, and have self-exaltation for its object. It results just as inevitably, that all the pride of the natural man will be excited and developed, and intellectual culture and religious forms and ceremonies will serve alike to inflame its fires. The dignity of human nature will consist, not in its ca. pacity to receive the Divine Image, as the placid and lowly lake receives the glowing skies into its tranquil deeps, but in its power of exhibiting a dignity and splendor out of itself, which resemble the splendors of the Godhead. The human soul will seem to itself a portion of the Divinity, and sufficient unto itself for all its progress and culture. Whatever virtues and moralities are put on, they are but the exhibitions of self; whatever be the forms of devotion, they are but the splendid liturgy that “wafts perfume to pride.'” (p. 106.)
The first result in the process of the regenerative work, is the reception of the divine agency into the soul in order to deliverance through it. And thus we have God's Spirit, the Holy Spirit in man. This is the spiritual influ. ence that comes from without. Then comes that inward change whereby the gaze of the soul is turned from self to God. And lastly,
“ All hereditary evil is expelled, -that gang of lusts and passions, and the brood of lies which they engender, which require to be killed, since they cannot be converted; to be scourged out of the temple, since they cannot be made fit for its service.” (p. 123.)
We must here give our author's summing up of the doctrine of regeneration, as expounded in his work.
“The sum of our doctrine, then, on this vitally important subject is this.
Regeneration, in its internal nature and process, includes three things :
First, the receiving the divine life into our inmost being through those capacities that open inward towards God and the spiritworld, the divine life imparted by the Holy Spirit that ever breathes through the heart of humanity.
Secondly, moved by this divine and attractive force, our natural powers, intellectual, affectional, and active, incline towards God, and are drawn into his service.
Thirdly, all corrupt instincts, whether we acquired them ourselves or received them as the foul inheritance of the past, constituting the Adam of consciousness, are expelled. This is the old man which is put off as the new man is unfolded from within.
The new man is known and characterized, By the new motives which are the springs of conduct. Hope of reward and fear of punishment both give place to an everabounding love. In other words, we act not from motives drawn from the future, but from the glad promptings of the present hour. Hence, again,
By a new kind of worship; for we do not seek God to purchase his future favor, or to deprecate his wrath, but because he is our present life and joy, and our powers lift the spontaneous hymn to his praise.
By a new enjoyment of external things, since the light and peace within us invest the world without us with their sun-bright hues, and since even the body which we wear is pliant to the new power that shapes the internal man, and makes the external reflect its radiance.
By the new morality in which the new life seeks expression and embodiment, when the soul puts on righteousness, and it clothes her, and makes justice her robe and diadem.” (pp. 134-35.)
Our limits forbid that we should consider, or even enumerate the means by which these several results are at. tained. They indeed present some questionable points. But however we might dissent from some of his statements, we readily agree with the general current of his argument. He has left the subject at the point where perhaps Universalists too often commence. We do not care to repeat the argumentation by which the ultimate issues of the regenerative scheme are shown to be thorough and universal, Our readers are perhaps less familiar with the reasonings which we have now given from our Unitarian author. We trust they will not treat them slightingly even if wanting, -as we feel that they are—in that continued argument which seems their proper complement.
G. H. E.
1. A Commentary on the New Testament. By Lucius R. Paige. Volume IV. Epistle to the Romans. Boston: Abel Tompkins. 1857.
We have not permitted the excellence of the former volumes of Mr. Paige's Commentary to be any ground of judgment in forming an estimate of the new volume. The dissimilarity between the Gospels and the Epistles, considered as subject-matter for commentary, must be obvious at a glance. Narrative dis . course and logical treatise present very little in common to him whose office it is to elucidate. There is about the same difference between the Gospel of John and the Epistle to the Romans, that holds between Hume's History of England and Locke's Essay on the Understanding. We have felt called upon,
therefore, to make up our judgment of Mr. Paige's fourth volume, with very little regard to his first volumes. We find but a single fault of which to complain—there is too much commentary. For instance, the words, “ To declare," do not need the commentary, “For the purpose of declaring, or making known.” The question “what then ? " is quite as clear as the question, “ What follows?” With occasional excesses, such as these, the work is almost out of the reach of criticism-clear, lucid, and direct. No foreign matter is obtruded; every word of commentary
the text. The best proof of learning, the absence of all display of learning, appears throughout the volume. Very great skill, and a patience characteristic of the author, are exhibited in paraphrasing, and making connected and distinct, the frequent circumlocutions and parentheses of the apostle's style. We direct particular attention to the comments on the fifth, sixth, and eleventh chapters, as examples. The author embraces proper opportunities to make the point of his explanation tell against modern objections to the faith which he thinks is explicitly taught in the Epistle. A happy instance occurs under the firsi verse of the sixth chapter. We do not, of course, assent to a ll the expositions of the author; for it is not at all probable tha:
· any one can write a commentary on such a book as the Romals, with which any other person will wholly agree. For instarce, we cannot think that the word “dead," in the seventh verse of the sixth chapter, has reference to physical death. But wh le we might single out instances of disagreement, we can