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but of energy; not of final condition, but of intermediate privilege; and he does not put his own case, sealed and illustrated as it apparently was by the most explicit Divine authentication, beyond the possibility of his being a castaway.
And in relation to that capital article of modern theology, the Atonement, it is remarkable how little the fact has been taken notice of, that, while the Apostle lays great stress upon the death of Christ, or, to use the vivid and speaking metaphor, “his blood,” he lays tenfold more emphasis on the resurrection of Christ, as the controlling evidence of the truth of his mission, as the lifegiving revelation of irnmortality. As it has been said a hundred times, and must be said as many more, the word atonement occurs but once in the New Testament (Rom. v. 11), and there, according to uniform usage, it should be rendered reconciliation. The modern idea of the Atonement is rebutted on every leaf and chapter of these letters, and wherever it seems to find any occasional footing, it hangs merely upon the flowers of the Apostle's branching and luxuriant rhetoric, and constitutes no part of the essential root and trunk of his reasoning. We believe the doctrine in question subversive of the natural justice of God, while conflicting at every point with that boundless mercy which shines as a central sun in the Gospel. The expression, " for Christ's sake,” which is frequently used in prayers and graces, and is designed to convey the impression, that what God gives to man he gives, not on account of his own intrinsic benevolence, or man's own intrinsic need, but on account of what Christ has done and suffered to purchase his favorable regards to a rebel and rejected race, also occurs but once in the Christian Scriptures (Ephes. iv. 32), and should by every principle of a uniform translation be there construed in or through Christ. The idea of its being necessary that something should be done or suffered by Christ, in order to render it consistent for God to forgive even his penitent child, is the master idea of the Atonement, and there is not a vein or artery in the Protestant body which has not been more or less tinged by it. The doctrine of the Atonement is the main post in the battlefield of modern controversy, and under differing forms, and with the interest either of adoption or of denial, it commands the range of theological literature. The mode of understanding the figurative language of the Scriptures, on which it is maintained, would equally well give countenance to the doctrine of Transubstantiation; and let it be added, that the theory on which it is founded perpetuates the system of Jewish exclusiveness, with this single gloomy addition, that, unlike that temporal system, it spreads it over the vast compass of man's spiritual being, and sends it down to the remotest ages of futurity.
It is not a little singular, that the writings which so often take for their theme the liberty of Christ, the spiritual emancipation from the letter to the spirit, the universal faith of Jew and Gentile, bond and free, should be the very ones that by a misunderstanding are employed to promulgate the partial and limited systems of Depravity, Election, and the Atonement. Who indeed would recog. nize in the systems of Calvin and his modifiers, unyielding as iron, and fixed and remorseless as fate, the tender and trembling responsibility of Paul, the charity that yearned and prayed for the worst, and cast not a solitary creature, except as self-exiled and self-condemned, beyond the pale of mercy. If it be doubted whether a system of theology can be essentially mutilated by the process of adding a little here, and subtracting a little there, which in obedience to their theories has been practised by the great doctors of Christendom upon the Epistles, take an illustration in Hogarth’s picture of Perspective, and see how fatally by such a perversion nature and reality may be driven out with a pitchfork in that art which represents ideas by forms, and which is kindred to that which represents them by words.
John Keats makes a distinction between great men and sublime men. Of the very few constituting the latter class, Paul is one. He was a sublime man in his nature. Wherever he lived, and whatever position he might occupy, he would leave his mark upon the world, broad, peculiar, and eternal. He possessed that immeasurable might of will and resource of soul, which make one stronger than a million of ordinary capacity. They become under his creative and inventive agency as clay in the hands of the potter. They are
They are as the elementary substance through which his electric energies circulate. In the true census, men are to be weighed, not counted. VOL. LI. - 4Th S. VOL. XVI. NO. I.
Genius is an intellectual gift, but sublime men are more than geniuses. They are seers, prophets, apostles, founders of states, fathers of their country, moral and spiritual archetypes of new eras of history, new stages of man's progress towards God. This class possess genius, but their genius is not exclusive; it is but one element of that august assemblage of powers by which they communicate a new vital force to the dormant mass of humanity, and speak the work of genesis, that brings order and beauty out of ages of darkness, chaos, and despair. It is their mighty moral, as well as intellectual power, which makes the earth gravitate nearer to heaven, and man more to resemble his Maker. To genius, to a superlative moral nature, Paul added the more transcendent gifts of inspiration. Sublime as a man, he became still more sublime as an Apostle of Christ.
Paul was sublime in his life and actions. His history includes contrasts greater than those of any romance. Once a persecutor of that faith of which he afterwards became the very chiefest Apostle, arrested in the height of his defiance by the voice from heaven of that Master for whose sake he afterwards died, after adding suffering to suffering and labor to labor, while he lived, the story of Paul, were we not so familiar with it from the nursery, would be read as the most wonderful of biographies, and as containing at once the sublimity of epic, and the pathos of tragic life. We are accustomed to estimate these subjects so exclusively from a devotional and conventional point of view, that we fail to form those clear, critical, and ästhetical judgments at which we arrive in estimating other questions of history and biography. The scale of Paul's enterprises was Titanic. To change the religion of the world was a task of no little magnitude. His actions are great, like his plans, great in conception, great in motive, and great in progress, execution, and result. Any thing small, mean, or unworthy we may be sure took instant flight from so impressive and luminous a presence. Wherever he moves, he bears with him the sceptre of unresisting authority and godlike beneficence. What men have erroneously called boastings were but the expressions of his childlike frankness, and the uncalculating pouring forth of that love which only asked as its reward sympathy in return. No man surpassed Paul in candor, none in the disinterestedness of his motives. Both in the quantity and the quality of his work, his life rose to the sublime. In all the great centres of the old nations, at the head fountains of thought and influence, Jerusalem, Athens, Ephesus, Corinth, Rome, he was present, and his presence was felt; he spoke a word that stirred the world, and that word was the Gospel of Christ, the sum of Divine wisdom for man. Paul awoke revolutions, organized institutions, and applied Christianity to new uses and adaptations, and gathered in a grand unity Jew and Gentile, bond and free, in one Church. Three hundred years did not elapse before the cross was the ensign of Rome, when Rome was the mistress of the world. And to-day, in all the hundred capitals of the nations, in a hundred different tongues, Paul is read, preached, and meditated upon, and next to the unapproachable Master impels the religious thought of the races and the ages.
Paul is sublime in his writings and in his earthly immortality. The brightest geniuses pale in the revolutions of time. Their names may be known as the commonplaces of history and literature, but their ideas have grown obsolete, their compositions cease to instruct and charm; little by little they die out of the memory of men, and they transmit to other hands the sceptre of their once unquestioned dominion. Their works are as the fossils of an earlier stratum of the earth. They lie in dead languages and on dusty shelves, read by a handful of scholars, but retaining little living hold upon the mind of the civilized world. But it is the glory of Paul, as it is of a greater than Paul, to win new power by time, to add as years and centuries pass new subjects to his faith, new provinces to his empire. The author of one third of the New Testament, the preacher of Christian truth to mankind, no king ever had so wide a sway, no king. dom such a duration. He has spoken words that have thrilled deeply, and will thrill for ever the soul of man. Coleridge said, “ I think St. Paul's Epistle to the Romans the most profound work in existence." Channing remarked, † “ We cannot but consider the letters of Paul, with all their abrupt transitions and occasional obscuri.
* Table Talk, Vol. II. p.
+ Memoir, Vol. I. p. 380.
ties, as more striking exhibitions of genuine Christianity than could have been transmitted by the most labored and artificial compositions." It is in the words of Paul that Christian devotion offers her warmest tribute of praise, Christian joy expresses her ecstasies, and Christian sorrow finds the charm of her soothing and her patience. Paul guides and instructs the living, comforts the sick and stricken, and opens upon the bed of death the bright vistas of a hope shining down from heaven. In Paul, Charity found a tongue to discourse with more than human eloquence of her beauties and glories, and in Paul the Resurrection and Life Everlasting speak in a tone so reasonable and so majestic, so convincing to the understanding, and so consolatory to the heart, that even at the mouth of the grave, where we commit" earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust,” Faith seizes the extinguished torch of life, lights it anew at her altar, and leads the way through the dark valley of the shadow of death with a hope built in heaven and full of immortality.
A. A. L.
Art. VI. - ECCLESIASTICAL CHRISTENDOM.
[An Address, delivered before the Ministerial Conference in Boston, May
27, 1851, by Rev. FREDERIC H. HEDGE.]
GENTLEMEN AND BRETHREN, - I have great pleasure in accepting the invitation of your committee which places me here to-day. Our ecclesiastical year has no occasion to which I could speak with greater satisfaction than this.
The regulations adopted at a former meeting of this Conference have assigned to this morning session the discussion of theological topics; reserving for a later hour those of a practical and social nature.
Of theological topics, - if we give to theology the wide acceptation which use has established, - I know none more pressing at present than that which, during the past year, has chiefly agitated the religious mind at home and abroad, — the Ecclesiastical Prospects of the