« ZurückWeiter »
form the new will in the soul, and become fixed principles of life. Thus they are said to be bound on earth, and also in heaven, because what a man receives into his heart and life remains with him for ever, and forms his heaven after death, for heaven has its basis in regeneration; but what a man merely perceives with his understanding, and does not love nor do, remains not with him, but is dissipated after death by the destroying influence of the evils of his life. It is not bound on earth, and it is not bound in heaven for him. But when a man repents of his sins, he is released from their influence and their consequences, here and hereafter.
Now, this work of resisting and overcoming evil, and thus receiving good from the Lord out of heaven, cannot be effected except through the instrumentality of divine truth, by which a true faith is formed, because before any one can put away evil, he must first see it, and know that it is evil, and he must also have a weapon to fight against it: truth at once shews him bis sins and becomes a sword in his hand to overcome them. But we have seen that the truth which begets faith is the Lord Himself in man, therefore the entire work of remitting sin, and loosing and binding on earth and in his heaven, is His sole prerogative, as He Himself declares in Rev. i. 8: it is “ He that openeth and no man shutteth, and shutteth and no man openeth.” As all good and truth is from the Lord alone, and none whatever from man; and as the Lord communicates these principles to all who are in faith from love; and as this is not the exclusive privilege of any man, but is enjoyed by all God's children; and as the Word is not of private interpretation, but is as applicable to us as to the apostles themselves, spiritually considered; it follows that the view we have given of the power which the Lord gave to Peter, is the only satisfactory and practical interpretation it will bear.
In the light of this subject we can see that whatever power was conferred on Peter was conferred also on the other Apostles ; (Matt. xviii. 18.) but was not confined to them, but is offered to all who ask for it in a proper manner. (Matt. xviii. 19.)
Even naturally considered, any power bestowed on Peter was not bestowed on him alone, but on the other Apostles as well. Peter never claimed any exclusive power of loosing or binding-of opening or shutting heaven; nor, consequently, could he ever delegate such power to others. The power conferred on Peter is, spiritually understood, a power which every man may receive and exercise in reference to himself. Although no human being can open and shut heaven to others, open
it or sbut it to himself. Seek, then, for Peter's power; and, by overcoming evil and doing good, walk forth triumphant.
REVIEWS. INSPIRATION AND INTERPRETATION : being a Review of Seven Sermons,
by the Rev. J. W. Burgon, with some Remarks upon “The Beginning of the Book of Genesis,” by the Rev. Isaac Williams. By the Rev.
AUGUSTUS CLISSOLD, M.A. No. 1. Oxford, 1861. INSPIRATION AND INTERPRETATION : being an Enquiry into their True
Principles. By the same. No. 2. Oxford, 1862. It seems very probable that the publication of “Essays and Reviews" may hereafter be regarded as an epoch in the history of religious opinion in this country. Not, indeed, that that work by any means presented the most pertinent objections to some so-called orthodox views of religious questions, in their most specious and perplexing forms (as will be admitted by anyone acquainted with the results of German Biblical criticism in the last hundred years), nor that it openly assumed the shape of a direct attack on those views; for there are many works which are infinitely more hostile to, them in avowed intention, and more injurious to them in argument. But the social position of its authors, of itself ensured an unprecedented degree of notice; and the wide public interest in their speculations awoke the serious attention of those who might have been too ready, from superciliousness, ignorance, and indifference, to despise any attack divested of those accessories. The state of stagnant acquiescence in traditionary tenets, and the indolent entrenchment of them behind the authority of Fathers and Councils, having been thus rudely disturbed, it became impossible to ignore such a book, written by such persons. Accordingly, controversialists have ever since continued to agitate the most vital questions of doctrine; and the beginning of this strife bids fair to "let out the water” of many truths equally misappreciated and unexpected by both the main parties to the dispute. So general a discussion of this class of questions cannot fail, in the present unsettled state of theology, to work many changes of opinion, and to elicit some truths not dreamt of by either side; and, possibly, those champions of ancient orthodoxy who buckle on their harness with the greatest boasts, may, personally, have least cause to triumph when they put it off again. Those only, however, can lose anything in this battle who are fighting for some human corruption of the truth, and not with a single mind for the truth itself. The Divine Truth will assuredly lose nothing in the strife. It is a great consolation that, as St. Paul says—“We are not able to do anything against the Truth, but only for the Truth." (ου δυνάμεθα. 2 Cor. xiii. 8.)
This controversy is sure ultimately to centre itself on the fundamental question of the inspiration of the Word. But it will require, we fear,
long and sore conflicts before the champions of orthodoxy are driven, by the very emergencies of the strife, to discern the indefeasible necessity for vindicating to the Word a far higher degree of inspiration than they are now disposed to admit. It is the object of the first of the above named tracts by the Rev. Mr. Clissold to follow the course of the Rev. Mr. Burgon's zealous, but partially mistaken, efforts to assert the inspiration of the Word as the true title of its sanctity, and the only efficient weapon
of its defence. He exhibits with great judgment and clearness the salient points of the argument; and, while he indicates with ready appreciation any approach to such views of inspiration as we hold to be alone worthy of the Word of God, he seizes suitable opportunities for suggesting the deficiencies that weaken the defence. In the second, he pursues the same subject with a mere general bearing, but with equal argumentative power, both in favour of the truth and in unmasking the untenableness of the opposite view. These tracts are, we would fain hope, destined to effect no little good, at this juncture ; and, though they address themselves chiefly to those who are endeavouring, with—as we think-imperfect knowledge, either to place the Word on its own true basis of authority, or to sap the foundation of its sanctity, yet they are very interesting to all who have any concern in the general discussion of so momentous a question.
It may be interesting, in this connexion, to take a cursory glance at the history of allegorical interpretation in general. The first traces of its application to any book, that we can discover, are the attempts to allegorise Homer. The crudities of his theogony, and the sensual and immoral views of the divine nature which his poetry diffused over the whole field of Greek culture, were so repugnant to the philosophy and piety of the early sages, that there was no way left for them but to allegorise away the absurdities and the scandals of their literal acceptation. The rudiments of this method must be very ancient, as Anaxagoras, who was born in the year 500 B.C., is said to be the first who applied this kind of interpretation to Homer, on a definite and consistent system. Subsequently, Plato proscribed the indiscriminate use of such poems in his “ Model Republic;" he sanctioned select extracts only, and excluded such passages as those on the Combat of the Gods, even when accompanied by an allegorical interpretation. At length, the famous school of Alexandria, the nursing mother of all strictly philological arts of interpretation, developed and systematised that of allegory also, and influenced the views of both Jewish and Christian writers who partook of its culture.
As for the Jewish Scriptures before our era, it is now generally admitted that Aristobulus, a Jew by birth, and a Peripatetic as to philosophical sect, who flourished about 170 B.C., was the first who wrote [Enl. Series.-No. 99, vol. ix.]
a work to vindicate the Mosaic Law from the contempt of the learned heathen. This work, dedicated to one of the Ptolemies, of which fragments only have come down to us, was designed to prove that the most enlightened Gentile philosophers were directly and consciously indebted to Moses for their illumination; and at the same time to rescue certain passages in the Pentateuch from the misapprehension and contempt of Greek sciolists, by declaring that their literal sense was only the allegorical covering of truths which they could not reject. More than a century and a half later, Philo Judæus, also an Alexandrian, pursued and developed the same system in numerous works, most of which still exist. Many of the early Christian fathers were thus reared under circumstances favourable to their reception of this mode of interpretation ; and Origen adduces these words of his antagonist Celsus, in reference to some particulars in the creation of man :
_" The more reasonable, both of Jews and Christians, being ashamed of these things, endeavour somehow to interpret them allegorically." (Contra Cels., p. 187, ed. Spencer.) Thence onward, the standard doctrine of the whole period up to the Reformation was, that the Sacred Scripture differed essentially from any merely secular writing, in that it possessed a spiritual sense within the letter.
Some of the historical incidents in this series have been regarded, by sceptical critics of the last century, as tending to the utter discredit of the existence of a spiritual sense in the Word. They argued that, as Homer could be allegorically interpreted, it would be as reasonable-or rather, as unreasonable—to look for an inner sense in any author whatever; and further, that, as it appeared that interpreters had often been driven to allegory, in order to save the credit of antiquated documents no longer in harmony with the enlightened philosophy of a later time, the motives which prompted such efforts were too transparent to impose on the reason of a critical age. Nevertheless, there has been a mighty reaction against that hard materialism; and it is precisely in Germany itself, and mainly through the writings of Creuzer, that we find the greatest readiness to admit that the whole mythology of heathen antiquity presents the perverted, and perhaps sometimes travestied, forms of an early monotheism. The myths of the Vedas and the Edda, as well as those of Greece and Rome, are now found to be full of symbolic meanings; and idolatrous rites and creeds are discerned to be only the corruptly literal observance of what bore a very different signification in the purer light of the dawn of human society.
Whatever importance we attach to the consistent testimony which the Christian Fathers have borne to the fact of the Word's containing a spiritual sense, their assertion must doubtless have sustained, in many
pious minds, a trust in this truth; although a trust very disproportionate to the brightness of those hidden verities which their allegorical interpretation was able to elicit. In fact, their practice has afforded to some the chief ground for denying the validity of their theory. Most of those who, like Whitby (Dissert. de Scriptur. Interpr. sec. Patr. Comment., Lond., 1714) and the elder Rossenmüller (Hist. Interpretat. Lib. Sacr., 5 vols. Hilburghusæ, 1795), have specially noticed their attempts in that style, bave argued against the principle from the very results of its application. And yet Origen, that most learned but inconsistent Father, who maintains that the Word contains three senses, which correspond to the body, soul, and spirit of man, has, in the proem to his explanation of St. John's Gospel, had the boldness to say—“So that although the Apostolic yritings are wise and reliable, and very authoritative, yet they are not like--Thus saith the Lord Almighty.' Judge by this whether, when Paul says, “ All Scripture is inspired of God and profitable,' he includes his own writings also; or, when he says, *I command, yet not I, but the Lord ;' (1 Cor. vii. 10.) or when he says, “So I ordain in all churches.' (Ibid. vii. 17.)" No one who desires to discern in what the inspiration of Scripture consists, should refuse to begin by testing the criteria which Origen indicates. To assert the inspiration of the Book of Esther, or of the Apostolic epistles, in terms so ample and so indiscriminate as those Mr. Burgon employs, amounts to a virtual surrender of the only inspiration which is characteristic of the Word of God.
THE NEW JERUSALEM MESSENGER. (American.) MANY of our readers no doubt are in the habit of seeing the New Jerusalem Messenger, and receiving both edification and pleasure from its pages. The spirit which usually reigns in its articles and selections, is such as is evidently dictated by a genuine regard for the New Jerusalem, and a clear perception of its doctrines; and it is one of our anticipated weekly treats to receive the kindly wisdom of our transatlantic brethren, and to rejoice in everything that constitutes their joy. In the struggles now being experienced by the American nation, we have felt deeply for the sorrows not only of our New Church brethren, but of the great people of whom they form a portion, and have ardently given them our best wishes for a speedy deliverance out of them, and an effectual riddance, at the earliest possible period, of that great mischief of the slavery of man by man, in which the present war has had its origin, alike contrary to the civilization of the new age and