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thing else to expect in this life, and what they had to experience themselves was all they had to offer to them who might accept their testimony. Men have sometimes suffered very severely for the sake of falsehood, but they have not regarded it as falsehood. To others it was known to be false, but not to the persons who suffered. The acceptance of injustice and suffering is invariably an indication of sincerity. It is not always an evidence of truth, but of sincerity ever; and in the case of the apostles, sincerity and truth were identical. A man may be sincere in maintaining what is in itself false, providing he is persuaded that it is true. But sincerity and falsity could not be conjoined in apostolic testimony. If the apostles suffered in the interest of falsehood, they must have known it to be falsehood; and the world may be fairly challenged to produce an instance in which men have submitted to such sacrifice, when they knew that that for which they sacrificed themselves was not true. The force of this position has been felt by those who have endeavoured to sap the historical foundation of the Christian faith. Hence they have sought by theories of legend and myth, and mixtures of both, to explain how the apostles might be sincere and yet mistaken. But subterfuges fail in the presence of candid inquiry, and are seen to be as far removed from the field of fair and honourable criticism, as the plotter's strategy is from open and manly warfare. It is an incredible thing, this suffering and sacrifice, if the men were false in their hearts, and false they must have been if that was not fact to which they testified.

Accepted as a fact, we may briefly consider- What is the evidential value of the resurrection of Christ? This point has been kept in view throughout the previous discussion, so that its separate treatment need not be lengthy. The resurrection of Christ shows that Christianity is of God. That it is one mode in which the great Author of life has manifested himself for the accomplishment of his gracious purposes. It not merely certifies that Christianity is true, but that the purpose it contemplates is the purpose of God. The resurrection fact accepted, and the divine origin of the Christian faith follows.

The aim of Christian teaching is not merely to restore man, but to lead him to higher spiritual life. All life is of God. The vitality so beautifully manifest in herbs, and flowers, and trees, rendering this world of ours so charming a spot, is of God; and so is that higher mode of life developed in animals; and that still higher which forms the crown and glory of humanity. In all and by all is God revealing himself, and all the excitants for the development and perfection of life are of God. He is the author both of life and its requisite spheres. All this is true of what is distinctively termed spiritual life. It is of God; and the conditions

requisite for its growth and perfection are also of him. In the resurrection fact, as the culmination of Christ's work on earth, we have evidence that in Christianity God, the author of life, isthat this is the mode in which he manifests himself for the creation and maintenance of spiritual life in men, and that the conditions revealed by Jesus Christ are the conditions under which he designs to prepare man for a higher and more perfect state. In Jesus himself we see human life made free from evil by divine presence and power; and in him also we see human life recovered by the same presence and power from the realm of death, and exalted to the right hand of the Father: evidence at once of what is possible for humanity, and of what shall become actual in the experience of humanity. As Jesus was pure, so may we be; and as he has risen, so shall we also rise from the dead.

The resurrection of Christ, showing that God is in Christianity, invests all Christian teaching with divine reality. "If Christ be not risen, your faith is vain, ye are yet in your sins.' An empty unproductive thing this faith in Christ if the resurrection be false. Christian teaching is then unfounded; Christian expectation is groundless, and the grand hopes which thrill a good man's heart with joy will be quenched in unmitigated disappointment. An unreal and visionary thing this Christian belief if Christ is not risen. But grandly real if he has broken down the barriers of the grave, and ascended to the right hand of the Father, a Saviour at once human and divine; the Son of man and the Son of God. The resurrection fact accepted, and then within the wide reaches of reality and verity there is nothing more real, nothing truer than these Christian teachings to which men listened in childhood, and which constitute in so large a measure the comfort, stay, and strength of the best years of their manhood.

Take the doctrine of vicarious sacrifice, and what is it but a figment of fancy apart from this resurrection fact? The death of Christ is a sacrifice in no other sense than that of any martyr if he has not risen from the dead. But the resurrection admitted, and vicarious sacrifice in the Christian sense is a substantial verity. Christ has indeed suffered for our offences, if we can say that he has risen for our justification, and with sacrificial blood entered into the holy place, and appeared in the presence of God for us. The doctrines of intercession, forgiveness, regeneration, the resurrection of the body; what are they to us? Shadows, yea, more shadowy than even shadows are, if Christ has not risen. Thus reasons Paul. But this resurrection of Christ admitted, and the entire circle of the Christian faith is invested with reality, and the present experiences of Christian life stand related to issues correspondingly real.

A candid inquiry shows that the resurrection of Christ is within

the limits of the possible, and that it has actually taken place. And having occurred, it certifies beyond question the divine origin of the Christian faith. Persuaded of this resurrection fact, we have then sound historical groundwork, and faith will not be with us a vain thing. Here we may stand and grasp the substance of things hoped for by the evidence we have of them, though the things themselves are yet unseen.

ART. VI. THE CONFLICT OF AGES.

A. J.

The Conflict of Ages; or the Great Debate on the Moral Relations of God and Man. By EDWARD BEECHER, D.D. London: Sampson, Low, Son, & Co., 47, Ludgate hill.

WHEN

HEN divines, no matter how learned or how clever, forget the good old law of theological inquiry, which makes the Bible the first and only standard of appeal in religion, and hearken to the suggestions of their own reason, clouded and faltering as it is at best, we need not be surprised at any wild or whimsical notion to which they may give utterance. The religious world is full of illustrations of this assertion. Men, distinguished for their rank, their learning, and their genius, slipping the anchor which in early life they had cast in the rock of inspired truth, and hoisting their sails to the winds of doctrine which have come from various points of the religious compass, have been driven, some on to the quicksands of atheism, others into the shallows of rationalism, and others on to the jagged rocks of doubt. Some have perished where they have been driven, sad examples of the vanity of philosophising in matters which faith alone was competent to deal with, whilst others have happily seen their error before it was too late, and reversing their helm with becoming haste, have been carried by the breezes of grace into the safe anchorage of faith and hope. To the latter class most of thinking men perhaps belong. Few who have given their minds to a patient investigation of the leading doctrines of theology have reached the sunny eminence of quiet assurance otherwise than by passing through the gloomy valley of doubt. In more ways than one are the followers of Jesus made perfect through suffering. While we ourselves have sorrowful recollections of more than one season in which our whole spirit passed through a baptism of fire in our early efforts to reach the goal of settled and intelligent belief, we have a grateful appreciation of the effects which that baptism produced. Never since then has the demon scepticism so much as shown his face; we have luxuriated in peaceful habitations, and in quiet resting places. And it may be that we express the general experience of thoughtful believers when we say that the most cherished articles of their creed are those which have cost them the

greatest amount of anxiety and pain to finally adopt, whilst the anguish of spirit with which their investigations were conducted has led to a humility, a gentleness, and a charity towards others which are now their brightest ornaments.

We class not such thinkers with the whimsical changelings who have disgraced almost every church since the Saviour's day; who believe to-day what they deny to-morrow, and who affirm that they know not what they may believe in before they die! Such men are not real thinkers. Real thinkers are men who neither yield up nor adopt any article of faith except after a thorough investigation, and on the clearest evidence, and who, when once they have made up their minds on a given subject, never think of making it again a subject of enquiry while the world stands.

In most cases the "fiery trials" of our thoughtful theologians were incident to that period in their lives when the first and leading thesis in theology, which makes the Bible, once admitted to be inspired, the test of reason, was not sufficiently apprehended to be acted upon; or else it has been incident to one of those periods in every student's history, when owing to some of the many strange and unaccountable agencies which act upon the mind, a temporary forgetfulness of that fundamental principle took place. It is therefore of vast importance, if peace and safety be objects of search, that the mind should be kept familiar with the law alluded to; in other words, that the student first of all acquaint himself with the evidences, internal, external,and collateral, which support the claims of the Bible to inspiration; and satisfying himself thereon, take his seat for aye at the feet of the good old book, and with child-like meekness receive its precious teachings.

But there are cases in which old thinkers have fallen into the sad error of reasoning where they ought to believe. It somewhat perplexes us to account for this. It cannot be that they do not know better; nor would we willingly set it down to a want of sincerity, or a disregard to the truth. We fear in some cases it is owing to a declension in devotional piety, and to the pride of intellect which usually follows. We have a firm conviction that no man, however keen his searchings into truth, and however ardent his longings to sound its depths, will get far on the dreary road of scepticism, or be much lacerated by the briars and thorns which abound therein, who maintains habitual intercourse with heaven. That blessed Spirit, whose office it is to lead and guide us into all truth, will graciously prevent such consequences. In every sense, and in all respects, he is kept in perfect peace whose mind is stayed upon God, because he trusteth in him. Were all unhappy apostates from God asked what was the first step they took in the road to ruin, they would doubtless answer, "We gave up private devotion, and leant

upon our own understanding." Whereas he whose "leaf does not wither," and who "bringeth forth his fruit in his season," is the man "whose delight is in the law of the Lord," and who makes that his constant and prayerful study. But we must come to the book named at the head of this paper. This book is the most singular one it has been our lot to read. It is upon a grave subject, and written with evident earnestness. The author must have regarded the task he set himself to perform, when he made up his mind to write this book, as one of vast importance, or he could not have gone through the Herculean work of which the achievement before us gives abundant proof. We have here nearly 600 solid pages of print; the matter is such as must have required the author to wade through scores of volumes by various authors to gain his illustrations and proofs; and months of patient thought and labour must have been expended in building up a structure of ideas and reasonings such as is here presented. But when asked what is it all about? we are forced to say-nothing. And yet, paradoxical as it may seem, the book is really an instructive one. We know of no work in which a fuller or clearer view of the subject on which it treats is given: none in which so much, from various quarters, is brought together: none in which a perplexing subject is so thoroughly handled; and yet none, alas! in which perplexity is left so perplexed as in this. Had the author set out with the intention of giving the young theologian the best which differing authors had to say on a difficult subject, and then left his reader to form his own opinions, the book would have excited one's admiration only; but he has massed together the views of differing schools of divines only to point out their in the author's opinion-absurdity, thereby to pave the way for the enunciation of his own really and truly absurd view, and therefore we have said the book is after all about nothing.

We crave the reader's pardon for keeping him so long in suspense as to the real subject-matter [is this compound term a proper one? it is certainly heavy, clumsy, and unmusical; but we use it for lack of one more fitting] of the book before us. Perhaps the reader may have guessed that the subject on which it treats is that of human depravity; and the aim of the author is to reconcile that deeply mysterious and perplexing doctrine with the goodness and equity of the Divine nature, a very desirable object, indeed, supposing it can be accomplished, and assuming that it is not accomplished already. As exhibitory of the gravity of the question, the book is a great success; as an attempt to harmonize the doctrine with the Divine perfections in a better way than was done before, it is a singular failure. For will the reader believe it?-the author claims for men a pre-existence as an order of beings, like the angels; declares an apostasy on their part while thus existing;

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