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finished and complete, that is given to us and so regarded and treated as our own! or, is it that righteousness as communicated to us, wrought by a kind of assimilative process in ourselves, that becomes the ground of our acceptance? There are several expressions in the above passages which would rather tend to make the latter interpretation probable, as, when he speaks of the efficacy of Christ's righteousness as consisting in this, that it is "the means by which we are raised out of our sins," in contradistinction from that of Paul, John, &c., which “cannot help us out of our sins.” Again, a little further on he speaks of the righteousness which justifies us as “springing from the root of faith,” and therefore “not ours, but Christ's,"—language which certainly seenis to speak of the righteousness in question as a thing existing subjectively in ourselves, though flowing directly from Christ, and through faith in him, and on that account called his. Christ's righteousness, then, according to this view, does not justify us simply as being accepted on our behalf and laid to our account, but as it is really communicated to us and existing subjectively in ourselves. In other words, the ground of our justification, strictly speaking, will not be Christ's righteousness itself, but rather our righteousness derived from his, and on that account called his. That indeed the righteousness of Christ has this transforming and vivifying power whenever truly apprehended by faith,—that, in the case of every genuine disciple, it is not only given to him, but wrought in him ; that in technical theological language it never is imputed to any one without being imparted also, we fully admit and maintain ; but what we complain of in Archdeacon Hare is, that he speaks throughout in language which tends to confound these ideas together, so as to leave it uncertain whether it is Christ's own righteousness that justifies us, or our righteousness derived from him and
springing from faith," or both together. As a striking example of this, we would quote the following passage, in which the author is summing up the whole office of faith in this work of receiving the righteousness of Christ, but in which, were it not for the connection, we should certainly have concluded that the subject in hand was not the justifying efficacy, but the sanctifying and transforming power, of faith :
“For what is our righteousness when it comes to us through faith? * It is not ours but Christ's, and every thing that is Christ's is wellpleasing in the sight of God. By faith we pass out of this world of sense. By faith we put off our carnal nature and put on a new spiritual nature, through which we shall not be found naked. By faith we receive the power to cast away our sins, and to live a life of
a holiness and love. Through faith giving ear to the voice of the Com
* Or, as he otherwise expresses it, “ springs from the root of faith.”
forter, the evil spirit is driven out of us, as he was driven by the harp of David out of Saul. Through faith we are lifted out of ourselves. Through faith we cease to be specks of foam dashed along the furrows of the homeless waves. Through faith we become members of the everlasting body of Christ; the spirit of Christ passes into us, and thus in the fulness of time we too shall go with him to the Father.”
The passages which we have as yet given refer, it will be observed, almost exclusively, to the positive obedience of Christ, and its efficacy in the justifying of a sinner before God. It may be desirable, however, to refer more particularly, for a moment, to that which, in the orthodox evangelical theology, constitutes the grand atoning element, his vicarious sufferings and death. On this point, we lament to say, the writings of our author and his friends are still more unsatisfactory. The language used in regard to the justifying righteousness, is clear as a sunbeam compared with that which they employ in reference to what we regard as the transcen. dent and life-giving mystery of the faith. We shall have room only for one or two brief extracts; but they shall be taken from a source to which, as a test of any man's religious teaching, there can be no possible exception_his popular parochial sermons. Surely, if anywhere we might expect a clear utterance of all his heart in regard to that which constitutes confessedly the very life and soul of Christianity, we should look to find it in those plain, homely discourses, in which he proclaims the message of eternal life in the ears of simple cottagers in the parish church of Herstmonceux. The following, then, is an extract from such a discourse, delivered apparently on Good Friday, and on the very subject with which we are now dealing," the end of Christ's coming,” and especially his death upon the cross :
“As his life was totally unlike that of other men, so was his death. He did not live for himself, or to himself, nor as one of many; nor did he die so. He died as he had lived, wholly for mankind, and to God —for the salvation of mankind, according to the determinate counsel and ordinance of God. Therefore that which he declared to be finished, when he was about to give up the ghost, must have been the great work to work wbich he came into the world, and which was wrought by him and in him for all mankind. It must have been the work which, when sacrifice and burnt-offerings, and all things else, were found unavailing to reconcile man to God, he said that he came to do, and that he was content to do it with his whole heart."
So far, then, all is well. He lived for us, and he died for us, to reconcile us to God. But, then, we ask again, in what sense and to what effect? Were those sufferings on the cross really penal sufferings, endured in our room, as the punishment
* Mission of the Comforter, p. 109.
of our sins, and thus expiating, because exhausting, our curse? -or only, as a disciple of Schleiermacher would phrase it, the necessary and crowning consummation of a life of entire obedience and self-sacrifice, which itself constitutes, from first to last, the one redeeming atoning act,—the perfecting of his justifying obedience by suffering? We must say, that the following sentences, which occur in close connection with the foregoing, and are explanatory of them, seem to us to bear too close a resemblance to the latter view:
"All he came to do by action had already been finished. But his greatest trial was still awaiting him ; his work was still incomplete. The hour of the power of darkness, as he himself calls it, was still to
His great work was to be completed and made perfect, as every truly great work must be, by suffering; for no work can be really great, unless it be against the course of the world, in unison, indeed, with the order of the world, as constituted by God, but against that order as perverted by sin, unless it be an endeavour to correct this perverted order, and to re-establish the right one ; nor unless we manifest our own sense of its greatness by our readiness to give up our own personal interests and pleasures, and comforts, and to endure hardship and pain, and bereavement, and death itself, for the sake of its accomplishment. Thus it was, by losing his own life, in every possible way; by the agony in the garden, by the flight and denial of those whom he had chosen out of the world to be his companions and friends,—by the mockery and cruelty of those whom his goodness and purity rendered more bitter against him,—by the frantic and murderous cries of the people whom he had loaded with every earthly benefit, and whom he desired to crown with eternal blessings, and by the closing sufferings on the cross, that Jesus was to gain his own life, and the everlasting life of all who will believe on him.”
There is obviously nothing here which necessarily implies the idea of penal suffering in the orthodox sense, or any thing, in short, beyond Schleiermacher's doctrine of obedience perfected in suffering, and glorified by it. Considered in this view, the sufferings of Christ, transcendent as they are in perfection and glory, are not in their nature essentially different from those which are accomplished in his members. As his life and death was one act of perfect obedience and selfsacrifice, so, according to their measure, and according as they live by faith in him, are theirs. Accordingly, our author, a little further on in the same sermon, proceeds :
“The work which Christ on this day finished for us was wrought with the intent that it should also be wrought in us by him, and by us for him. As all God's words and works are at once universal and individual, embracing the whole order of things, and applying to every single member of it, so the work which our Saviour finished on the cross was finished at once for his whole church, and for every single member of that church, and is to be finished in and by his whole
church, and in and by every single member of it. Yes, my brethren, the work which Christ finished on the cross was finished for of you, and is to be finished by him in every one of you, and by every one of you for him."
There is a sense, of course, in which these statements will be admitted by all, and in which they convey a truth precious alike to every genuine follower of Christ. In one aspect of them, the life and death of Jesus is the type and pattern, as well as the spring, of a similar warfare and victory, to be accomplished in each of his living members, who in this sense are in very deed predestinated to be conformed unto the image of his Son. Thus we suffer with him, overcome with him, reign with him, bearing about with us in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that his life also may be made manifest in our mortal body. We cling to this blessed truth, and would feed on it in the hidden communion of the heart with as fervent and adoring a faith as those do who make this the all in all of Christianity. But we protest against it as a whole account of the work of Christ upon the cross, or of our interest and share in it; and we maintain, in harmony, we believe, with the clearest utterances of the Divine Word, that there is another sense, and one still more profoundly precious to the conscience of man, in which the Redeemer's sufferings stand peerless and alone, admitting of no imitation and needing no repetition. In the discipline of suffering, and the victory of faith and patience, he has had and will have many followers; but in the path of penal and expiatory sorrow, he hath trod the winepress alone, and of the people there were none with him.
All this, we would fain hope, our author would not deny ; but certainly it is not contained in the above passage, or, so far as we can see, in any part of the sermon from which we have quoted-a sermon, be it remembered, on the express subject of the end of Christ's sufferings, addressed to a plain congregation on a day consecrated to the remembrance and contemplation of the great mystery of redemption. If our author holds this doctrine in his heart, in the full orthodox sense, it is plain, at least to us, that it is sadly overshadowed and cast into the background by other views, precious, indeed, in themselves, and necessary to a full exhibition of the Christian system, but which have grown in his mind, and that of his school, to a too exclusive and hurtful predominance. We sometimes feel, in lingering over these pages, as if we were gazing on the setting sun, and as if the rich glow of evangelic thought and feeling that is diffused over them were only the parting hues of a bright day, soon to be followed by a dark and cheerless night. But we would fain and fondly cling to a better hope.
* Sermons preached in Herstmonceux Church. Second vol. pp. 387, 389, 391, 392.
We wish we could have found room for the whole passage, but we believe we have not omitted any thing essential to do full justice to our author's views. Let the reader who wishes to prosecute this subject compare this sermon with Maurice's on the “ Prince of Sufferers," already referred to; Trench's lecture on “Sacrifice," in the Hulsean Lectures; and the sermon on “ The Crucifixion" (also a Good Friday sermon), in Kingsley's Village Sermons, and he will discern the same general ten. dency on this head pervading them all,—the tendency to regard the last sufferings of Christ in connection with his whole life, and as its crowning and perfecting act, rather than as possessing in themselves a distinctly penal nature and peculiar expiatory virtue.
Upon the whole, then, while we are not prepared to charge Archdeacon Hare with a clear and decided divergence from the received orthodox belief on this vital subject, we are, we think, fully warranted in complaining of an exceeding vagueness and incertitude on the whole subjcct. When we have said this we have made a charge sufficiently serious. Any vagueness or uncertainty of view in regard to a matter so infinitely momentous as the nature of the great propitiation, must constitute a grievous flaw in any theology in which it exists. It cannot stand alone. It must injuriously affect more or less our whole conceptions of the system of divine truth. An error or defect in a matter of subordinate importance may exist in the mind without danger to any vital interest of faith or holiness; but a disease at the heart must work, and just to the degree in which it is itself serious, with baneful effect on the whole body of Christian truth and life. Our views of God, of sin, of
. the law, of conversion, of the workings of nature and of grace, will take their colour more or less from the conceptions we have formed of this great central article, which sheds light upon them all, and is illustrated reciprocally by them, and therefore any material unsoundness here must give a new character to the whole revelation of God, and tend, so far as it goes, to change into another gospel the one everlasting gospel of Christ. For this reason we cannot but regard the defect we have been pointing out as a very painful feature in the writings of this school, and such as must render them a most unsafe regimen for such of our earnest and genial youth as are disposed to yield them any thing like an entire or paramount admiration. *
Those who are at all acquainted with modern German theology will not need to be told how closely the tone and spirit of the above passages resemble that of the school of Schleiermacher. With him, too, the person of Christ is the grand central vivifying principle. The mystical union is the all in all of theology and of the Christian life. By that union we obtain spiritual life, and by the continuance and growing intimacy of that union in the inward fellowship of the spirit that life is sustained, developed, perfected. He himself, too, in his person and his life, is our righteousness, and we are justified and accepted simply as his members. His whole existence on earth was one redeeming, atoning act in our behalf, and his sufferings and death possessed no peculiar virtue, save as the crowning and consummating act of such a life of entire obedience and sublime self-sacrifice as he led for us in the flesh. His death, then, was not a satisfaction to divine justice in any proper sense, but his whole earthly course in life and death was a sacrifice of obedience wellpleasing to God-according to Schleiermacher's own formula, a satisfactory substitution. Thus it will be seen, that in regard to the mystical union, and the positive