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I.

THE QUESTION OF SIN IN RELATION TO MODERN SCHOOLS OF THOUGHT—METHOD OF TREATMENT.

THE subject which I have undertaken to discuss in these Lectures, if it cannot be said to lie at the foundation of Christian Theology, is more or less implied in the whole system of Christian doctrine. In itself it belongs to what in modern nomenclature is called Anthropology rather than Theology. It is a question, that is to say, respecting Man rather than God. But the Christian conception of God, and of God’s action in the world, points throughout to man as a sinner. All the characteristic terms of Christian Theology—salvation, redemption, forgiveness, 2grace—indicate that there is a power of evil from which man needs to be saved, or which impedes his higher life. There can be no more important inquiry, therefore, than one into the reality and the meaning of this power of evil, which Christians call sin.

It is interesting to trace, both in Theology and Philosophy, the interdependence of what may be called Anthropological and Theological questions. Man’s conception of himself, of his own nature, is never separable from his higher conception of the Divine. He is really, even when his thoughts seem to wander furthest away or most aloft, the pivot round which they turn. What he is himself, or is supposed to be, gives the colour to all he thinks of Nature around him, and God above him. There never was a vainer effort than that so much vaunted at present of casting aside anthropological ideas. No more than man can strip himself of his nature can he strip his thought of the folds in which that nature enwraps it. There is a sense, and a right sense, in which man’s thought of himself—what he is—must mould all his other thought, philosophical as well as theological.

In the history of the Church this has been exemplified over and over again. A shallow conception of man’s nature has always bred a shallow conception of the Divine nature. A meagre anthropology 3has for its counterpart a meagre theology. A Pelagian not merely denies the depth of human sin, but the profundities of the Divine action. And the same law of alternation or balance, if not always in the same marked degree, runs everywhere through the long line of the development of Christian thought.

But the antithesis is not less marked in Philosophy. From the earliest dawn of speculation two sides everywhere appear, contrasted by their starting-point not less than by their results. It is the conception of man as a being not only mundane, but supra-mundane—as drawing his higher life from a higher source—which has alone given rise to a higher philosophy, or a Philosophy of Being. The conception of man as merely a consensus of external faculties has never risen above a philosophy of the senses. Nor could it be otherwise. Thought cannot, any more than water, rise higher than its source. And the thought that is solely earth-born, or the inheritance of mundane experiences, and nothing more—however subtilised or aspiring—can never bring any light from beyond its earthly home. We must start from a higher home, from a “heaven lying about us in our infancy,” if we would ever reach a spiritual and higher line of thought at all. We cannot climb into an empty heaven. If we are not born with the “promise and potency” of the Divine, the “image of God,” within us, then we shall never reach the 4Divine, earnestly as we may grope for it, and cast forth our loftiest thoughts to grasp it.

The present turn of speculation once more strikingly illustrates this interdependence of thought on these great subjects. The favourite conceptions of modern science involve, if they do not start from, a definite view of human nature at variance with the old Biblical or spiritual view. Man is conceived as developed from lower forms of life by lengthened processes of natural selection. There is nothing necessarily inconsistent with an enlightened Christianity in this idea, so far. The Divine mind may work out its plans by processes of growth or adaptation as readily as by any other way. Nay, as it has been recently admitted by one of the most distinguished advocates of the modern idea, the teleological conception, or the conception of design, is prominently suggested rather than excluded by the theory of development as a mere modus operandi. But beyond question the chief advocates of this theory mean something very different. Nature is supposed by them to be not merely the sphere of operation, but the operating power itself—beyond which there is nothing. Man is not merely, like all other things, a natural growth, but he is nothing else. There is no higher Divine element in him. There is no such thing—or at least nothing that we can know or validly infer. Material facts and their relations or laws are all that we can 5ever know. It is this underlying sense of the theory which is at variance with the old Biblical view of human nature. It leaves, for example, no room for the idea of sin. For that which is solely a growth of nature cannot contain anything that is at variance with its own higher laws. It may show more or less perfect stages of growth, but it cannot contradict itself. If the individual and social man alike are merely the outcome of natural forces working endlessly forward towards higher and more complex forms, then whatever man is, he is not and cannot be a sinner. The mixed product of internal and external forces—of what is called organism and environment—he may be at certain stages of his progress very defective. It may require thousands of years to elevate him into a more complete existence. But he has not fallen below any ideal he might have reached. He has not wilfully rejected a good he might have known. He is only at any point what the sum of natural factors which enter into his being have made him. The two conceptions of sin and of development in this naturalistic sense cannot coexist. I cannot be the mere outcome of natural law, and yet accountable for the fact that I am no better than I am. If I am only the child of nature, I must be entitled to the privileges of nature. If I have come from matter alone, then. I cannot dwell within the shadow of a responsibility 6whose birthplace is elsewhere—in a different region altogether. And so the spirit of modern science is consistently non-Christian. A man who is nothing more than an aggregate of natural powers, can have no true vision transcending the range of these powers. The Unseen, or a law coming forth from the Unseen to rule his spirit, must be a mere superstition to him, and sin, as the violation of such a law, a mere gloomy phantom, to be got rid of the best way he can.

These considerations may serve to show the importance of our subject, and how vitally it bears on the problems of modern thought. All these problems, and indeed the problems of thought in all ages, have circulated around two main modes of conceiving human nature—the one of which is spiritual, Biblical, and theistic, and the other natural, cosmical, and anti-theistic. These are the real antitheses which underlie all human speculation, and to which it always returns. It cannot help returning on the same line, after whatever show of discussion and argument, because the line is already predetermined by the starting-point. The conclusion on the one side or the other is everywhere involved in the original terms of the question. “That which is born of the flesh is flesh; that which is born of the spirit is spirit.” The Democritic philosopher, whether of the ancient or a modern school, is already a materialist7—the Platonist already a Platonist—in the very language with which they respectively open their inquiries. All depends upon the presupposition as to what man is with which they set out.

The anthropological question, therefore, is really the primary question for all Philosophy, while the very possibility of a Theology hangs upon the answer given to it. If the answer be that of the modern scientific school, then the theological idea, or the idea of an extra-mundane sphere of which we can have any knowledge, disappears altogether. If nature round our life, and our processes of thought and action are all built up from without-the result, in their most subtle and lofty form, of material appliances-then anything beyond nature is imaginary. There is no room for the thought of God, or a sphere of divine action, or any element in us which derives meaning from this sphere. Theological dogmas vanish at a sweep, as a collection of mere shadows with which men have amused or tormented themselves. And this is clearly recognized by the modern scientific school, as an end at which they deliberately aim. Even earnest writers of this school have professed a wish that men would at length turn away from the contemplation of such shadows, and devote themselves to real work for the improvement of the world. What good might be done, they have virtually said, if only the intellectual enthusiasm 8and ability which are now wasted on theological questions were turned into the channel of scientific labour, and applied to the investigation of the realities of nature.[See Appendix I.]

But the theological spirit is irrepressible. It rises from the very bosom of the school which disowns it, and takes new and strange shapes in its strange home. However man may prize science and its results, apparently he cannot live on them. There is that in him which demands something more. There are powers within him which remain restless and unsatisfied-conditions of morality and social order which seem unable to stay themselves save on eternal and divine laws.11   Μέγας ἐν τούτοις θεὸς οὐδὲ γηράσκει.—Soph., O. T., 871. The final answer to such questions as have again been raised respecting the very idea of religion must be sought in a renewed study of man’s whole nature. What really is man in his complex activity? Can he be explained by reference to the mere laws of cosmical progress? Are the forces seen working endlessly in nature below him adequate to account for all his life? Or are there not forces in him unaccountable on this hypothesis, and which relate him to a higher sphere, just as really as his senses and other natural organs relate him to the lower sphere? Is he, in short, an animal, at the best, however noble an animal; and 9are Mr. Darwin and others in the true line of explaining not merely his physical but his emotional and moral activities by reference to the nascent germs of these in the lower animals? Does the idea of gradual development from below give the key not merely to a part but to the whole of his nature, although many links of the development are acknowledged to be still obscure? Or is there really a higher life in man-forces of morality, aspiration, and devotion which make him in creation a “singular effect”—the image of a reasonable Power higher than his own, who has made him, and to whom he is subject? Is mind, in short, prior to matter, and not its mere evolution? And is the higher life of man the expression of a Higher Mind that has endowed him with intelligence, morality, and capacity of worship?

It is impossible to get beyond this old antithesis lying at the foundation of all thought, and it is equally impossible to find a rational answer save in the study of man himself. If the naturalistic hypothesis can give an adequate account of man, then there is an end to the question. But not even the most extreme advocates of the hypothesis will venture to assert that they have approached the solution of man’s mental, and still less of his moral, being along the line of lower life. Supposing that the fact of life were given them—and this in its very lowest forms they have failed to explain—they cannot confessedly 10find a passage from organic to conscious existence. The thread of evolution snaps asunder here. And even were they allowed to build on a basis of consciousness, they are powerless to erect thereon a moral structure. The moral life of humanity baffles all attempts to construct it merely from without. It is a kingdom within, unveiling itself from a higher source—as much a reality as the kingdom without, or the cosmos of natural law. Both, as Kant says, are equally true—“the starry heavens above and the moral law within;”22   Kritik der praktischen Vernunft, quoted by Sir W. Hamilton in his Lectures on Metaphysics, p. 39, 40. See passage in Appendix II. the former connecting itself with our external life, the latter revealing a faculty of life independent of animal, and even of all material existence. If there are times when we feel that the spiritual side of humanity has been somewhat exaggerated as an independent sphere, and an absolutism attributed to it which experience hardly warrants, there are other times when the whole strength of experience rises up against the most ingenious explanations of a psychological naturalism, and a sense of duty to a higher Power makes itself felt irresistibly. The heaven above is not more clear than the heaven of duty within. If we had to choose betwixt the two realities, the latter is the more intense and overpowering of the two.

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But this may be admitted, and yet the Biblical idea be rejected. There are schools of thought in our time which emphasise the moral side of humanity, and yet reject the old religious background whence man as a moral intelligence was supposed to have come. They advocate strenuously a moral and even a religious nature in man, and go so far as to believe that human happiness can only be found in conformity to a religious ideal. But then they either deny the objectivity of this ideal altogether, or at least deny its old Biblical character as centring in a Divine Person, or an Intelligent and Holy Will ruling man and the world. Experience, it is allowed, gives the data of a higher life in man, just as surely as the data of a lower life. But then the higher life is either without any sphere beyond the visible and natural sphere which now encloses it, or the sphere which is above it and to which it answers is a mere dumb power or “stream of tendency,” of which we can know nothing save that it is and that it acts. In this view morality is allowed, and religion is allowed and even warmly advocated. But neither the morality nor the religion are of the old Biblical type. They not only start with man, but they stay with man. The expression “God” may be used, but its meaning is entirely inverted. It no longer means a living Person outside of us,—an Intelligence to whom our intelligences can ascend 12and with whom they can communicate. It is merely an idealised abstraction of ourselves, or some impersonal Power and Law “not ourselves.” In either case, and on every such hypothesis of making experience not merely the starting-point but the goal of religious thought, we can never pass into a higher or supernatural sphere of intelligence. To attempt this is to attempt Metaphysic; and all our modern schools of experience, whether they start from external nature and the generalisation of cosmical phenomena, or from man and the phenomena of moral conduct and aspiration, detest and disavow Metaphysic.

Nature and the facts of nature are tangible and powerful realities, say one class of our modern experience-philosophers—make what you can of them. If science and the laws which it unfolds are in themselves cold and uninspiring, clothe them with the ideas of sentiment and order. In other words, make them religion. It is contended by the special school of Positivists or the true Comtists that science must become religion, and it is their aim to preach as missionaries this new religion of scientific doctrine and scientific order. But to pass beyond the bounds of scientific generalisation is to pass into a region of nonsense. There is nothing, or at least nothing that we can ever know, beyond this region.

Others, again, virtually say, leave nature alone. 13It is the proper sphere of science, and a religion of science is hopeless. But look within, and there a new order of facts emerges as the true basis of religion. We know that to be good is better than to be bad; that righteousness is happiness: that in our life, in short, there is a moral order of whose existence we cannot doubt, any more than we can doubt of the existence of the outward cosmical order. Belief in the reality of this moral order is the essence of religion. The position seems Christian. It is put forth as the last or most modern expression of Christianity.33   Dr. Matthew Arnold’s position is so well known by his recent works that it is unnecessary to do more than refer to it. But the same position is virtually held by the influential school of divines, known as the “modern school,” in Holland. See in Appendix III. an interesting statement of their position. But it breaks down at the most vital point. For beyond the subjective sphere of moral experience it recognises nothing. To step beyond the moral order verifiable in our experience, to a Supernal order with a Supreme Intelligence at its head-this is no longer religion but theological Metaphysic, a mere region of chaos and wordy darkness in which we can verify nothing.

In neither of these cases is religion denied to man. On the contrary, the fullest concessions are made to it, and the line of experience is run out to its end, and possibly beyond its end. But in both alike all spiritual inference from the facts of experience is 14denied. Neither the cosmical order nor the moral order are held as witnessing to a Supreme Order, from which both come, and of which both are only the reflection. God (in the Biblical sense) is not only not the first word of these schools,—He is not their last. They not only do not take their authority from Him—they do not lead up to Him; He is not in all their thoughts. At the best and at the last there is only a glorified humanity, or “a power not ourselves making for righteousness.” The measure of human experience is not only the measure of knowledge, but of being. Anthropology has not only taken precedence of Theology, but taken revenge upon it for its long neglect by extinguishing it. If a religion can be made out of man, and the facts that are verifiable in his experience,—good and well. But beyond the borders of this experience, to a single step of inference, or what they call inference, both the religions of science and of culture obstinately refuse to go.

But here again the question recurs, Do these anthropological religions (much as they repudiate Anthropomorphism, they are anthropological and nothing else) rightly interpret human nature, or give a true account of it? Is it possible, from a study of man himself, to rest satisfied either with a religion of cosmical law or of moral law? Are not those very facts of experience, of which so much 15is made, only intelligible in the light of a higher Supreme Law? Is all ethic not necessarily theologic, and do not the very ideas of right and wrong disappear apart from an Order which is not merely within man, but without him—a Supreme and Holy Will, from which all cosmical and moral activity alike flow, and to which they obediently return? Is not the moral life of humanity only conceivable as a reflected life, looking back towards this higher Source, and gathering all its true strength therefrom—a Source which has lifted it upwards through the ages, and drawn it always more near to its own Ideal? Is not humanity itself only intelligible as a created and not as a self-evolved personality; as a subject of education, and not of mere development; as the child of a Divine Father, and not the victim of a power not himself which punishes his unrighteousness? Is not the very conception of righteousness only reached by a moral sense or conscience in us, which, if it is allowed at all, witnesses to far more than a mere stream of tendency encompassing and controlling our lives?

In the course of these Lectures the views here indicated are everywhere implied. It was necessary, therefore, to make them so far clear at the outset. Our argument rests, and can only rest, both on a moral and a theistic basis. The question of sin is a question which has no existence save in the moral 16sphere. In the region of cosmical law it does not emerge at all. Whatever there may be of the appearance of evil within this sphere is either capable of explanation on an enlarged scientific view, or draws its character of mystery from the higher moral sphere which it touches. Apart from a moral law, enclosing all sentient life, and revealing itself as an intelligible and imperative guide in human life, there cannot even be the imagination of moral transgression. The most rudimentary conception of what is called sin vanishes. The fact of morality, therefore, and of a moral ideal, must be taken along with us from the outset.

But the fact of a metaphysical or theological sphere must no less be presumed. At the root, Metaphysic and Theology are one, and rest on the same basis; nay, Morality, in any true sense, appears to us to rest on no other basis. Otherwise it is only a generalisation of utilities without any permanent essence or unity. In man there is either a principle of life deeper than all nature (physis)—in other words, a metaphysical principle—or there is not. He is primarily either spiritual or material—a divinely-created soul, or a subtly-composed combination of mere physical elements, enclosing whatever variety of so-called spiritual experiences. There is no evading this final issue. The spiritual side of humanity, which in name is not denied by any 17school of thought with which it is necessary to argue, is either real in the old scholastic sense, or merely nominal—a growth from a divine root, transcending nature, and related to a Higher Spirit, which has implanted it; or it is a mere growth of nature, marvellously as it may have subtilised and purified the lower elements out of which it has grown. The latter alternative is that which is really assumed by all our modern schools, although less prominently by some than others. This is the meaning of their incessant assault and abuse of Metaphysic; of their equally incessant admiration and applause of experience. All the phases of mind and feeling, spiritual as well as sensible, are allowed for. These phases are facts to be woven into science and religion. But a metaphysical or spiritual ground in human nature an ens metaphysicum and soul—as a separate reality, with a separate and transcendent sphere of its own, is presumed to be mere superstition or delusion. The sphere of being is here and now-nowhere else. Soul is the finest experience ripened within this sphere; it is nothing else. But Metaphysic cannot be got rid of by mere assertion. The highest thought of every age has returned to a metaphysical basis, and found the only solution of its problems in the recognition of a sphere other than the present, and deeper than all phases of experience. Behind the phenomenal,18 in all its manifestations, it has found the noumenal—behind all the flow of experience, a unity of Divine Reason or Soul or Spirit in man, out of which alone have come the ‘flower and fruit’ of his higher life. It is of the essence of this higher life, not only that it is independent of matter, or springs from a source independent of matter, but that it is related to a world of spiritual or metaphysical reality—a supernatural order which everywhere touches it and conditions it. This supernatural order is no mere ideal rule or law—a projection of our higher imagination or an invasion of “something not ourselves,” whence we cannot tell. It is a divine reality,—a Personal Reason and Will like our own, enlightening, educating, controlling us. Morality, in the true sense, is conformity to this divine reality; Philosophy, in the highest sense, is our theory of its mode of being; and Theology, our knowledge of its activities or manifestations. Alike they presuppose a transcendent or metaphysical basis. Let this basis be granted, all the rest follows. Let man himself be Divine in his essential being, the theistic inference is a strict and legitimate one. Let this be denied, Theism disappears. The very idea of the Divine in the old, and, as we must hold, the only true sense, can never be reached.

Large, therefore, as may seem our assumptions to 19begin with, they all hang together. They come very much to the old Biblical truth that man is a created being, and not a mere result of natural development,—that he was made in the image of God, endowed with a reasonable will and conscience, and subject to the authority of the Divine Being who made him. The time was when it might have been a mere matter of course to start with such assumptions in treating any theological topic; but in the present atmosphere of opinion it is hardly possible to do this without at least indicating what we are doing, and, so to speak, clearing our path towards the special question which is to occupy us. It is only when we have planted ourselves on a spiritual or metaphysical basis, below all mere phases of experience, and brought ourselves face to face with Soul on the one hand and God on the other, subject and object alike transcending mere natural development, that our question comes into view at all. We cannot help, therefore, beginning on this basis, and implying it from the first. At the same time, we hope in the course of our exposition to do something to vindicate the soundness of such a basis. It will be found better than any other to harmonise with the results of our analysis of the profound enigma of sin. The enigma may remain insoluble; but if it be at all, it must cast some meaning on the true character of humanity. If man be a sinner, 20the fact of sin, however inscrutable it may remain in its own character, cannot fail to authenticate his spiritual origin and relationship, and thus throw back lines of proof in favour of the theistic conclusion with which we have started. This is not to reason in a circle, but only to bring back such truths as may be gathered in the recesses of our moral experience to light up the pathway along which we have travelled.

Having so far premised as to the character of the question before us in relation to modern schools of opinion, it still remains to consider as to our method of discussion. Sin being held to be a fact of human nature—an element of our moral consciousness—it might be thought best to begin with this consciousness, and to endeavour to fix the fact in the light of an internal analysis of its contents. If it be there, these contents must reveal it; and so we believe they do beyond doubt. Step by step the fact may be unfolded by an honest and searching scrutiny of the individual moral experience.

This is the method of analysis which is mainly followed by J. Müller in his great work on the Christian Doctrine of Sin, and it long appeared to us the true method of dealing with the subject,—first, to examine the individual consciousness in its inner witness to the fact—to draw out the features of 21this self-witness; and then to view the conclusions thus reached in the light of Scripture, especially of the significant statements on the subject in the apostolic writings. But this method no longer appears so satisfactory as it once did. It assumes too readily the fixity of the moral and religious consciousness in every individual. It makes this consciousness as it exists now, or in modern Christian nations, a standard of universal application. It assumes, moreover, that it is possible in some way to distinguish betwixt our natural and our inherited moral notions—our moral consciousness merely as human beings, and the same consciousness as informed and instructed by Divine Revelation. In the first instance, we are supposed to be dealing with the light of Nature, as if we were able to fix its elements apart by themselves, before we begin to contemplate them in the light of Scripture. But this is really an impossible task. The contents of Nature and Revelation cannot any longer be separated in this manner. The historic and the individual conscience are inextricably interwoven as cause and effect. We are all of us morally as well as intellectually what we are, not merely because of certain specific and typical endowments, but because of a long line of inherited experiences which have come to us from all past sources of culture, natural and revealed. We are born of Christian parents, and nursed from the first of Christian 22ideas, which have entered into the sources of our moral being, and given it both colour and substance. We cannot any longer discriminate in this being the specific from the general, the individual from the catholic compounds. What is ultimate in our higher thought can never be disentangled from our inheritance of belief and education. There is no doubt a certain morality and a certain religion in all men by nature. The history of ethics and the history of religion alike show this. If we go outside of Christianity, we still find man a creature of morality, or a subject of religion. This is enough to show that moral and religious instincts are a natural part of humanity. But, admitting this, it is no longer possible for those who have been educated within the long-descended line of Christian ideas, to determine clearly the elements either of a natural Ethic or a natural Religion as distinct from those ideas. They cleave to us too closely. Nay, they are so inwoven in the common fibre of our intellectual and spiritual life, that many of those who in our day assail Christianity with most intelligence and force, are found borrowing the very ideas with which they would supplant the Gospel from the atmosphere of morality which it has produced, and which without it would soon vanish. To this extent the modern idea of continuity must be admitted by all. The moral and religious life of humanity 23is a vast growth, which has taken up into its lifeblood all sources of past knowledge from Church and Scripture, as well as from Nature and Science. The light of so-called Nature and the light of Revelation have so mingled their rays in us, as to make up a blended experience which it is no longer possible to break up and refer to their respective sources.

It will be our aim, therefore, instead of beginning with the full idea of sin and appealing to Scripture everywhere for its proof, to review the idea in its gradual development. The idea is, according to our belief, a true one. It is verified by experience, recognised, described, and defined in Scripture. But, like all other ideas, it has grown from stage to stage in the human consciousness. It is not at first what it is afterwards—in its beginnings what it is in its full expression. It is now generally recognised that an idea is best understood and interpreted when thus unfolded along the whole line of its history—nay, that the best verification of the idea, or proof of its being true and not false, is just the manner in which it is seen from the beginning to cleave to the human mind and heart as a living possession.

Into this growth of religious ideas there enter all the factors which have been concerned in their production, expansion, or purification—not only the natural impulses of the human mind pushing onwards 24and realising more clearly its own powers, but also what is meant by Revelation, or the special introduction of new thoughts and impulses from a higher source. Without Revelation, religious ideas would never have been what they are. Hebrew and Christian monotheism, the great doctrines of the Trinity, the Incarnation, the Atonement, the doctrine of Sin in its full meaning, and Justification by grace, are all, according to Christian belief, the result of this higher communication. According to the same belief, they are true as thus communicated. But the higher source from which such ideas come does not destroy their capacity of growth. On the contrary, of all ideas the most living and fertile have been those of Revelation. They have been as a new power of life to the human consciousness, darkly growing up from the tangled weeds of its own superstitions to the clear light of God revealed in Christ. None of them were revealed in their fulness all at once. No doctrine has come forth in complete lineaments from the Divine mind. It has aggregated and acquired precision of outline from many influences working in the mind and heart of the Church in all ages. Theology exists for the purpose of analysing the aggregate, and elucidating and verifying the details of outline, and, in short, of presenting the doctrine in its full contents and meaning.

There is nothing novel in this view of Theology. 25I have not said there is. It has always been the business of Christian Theology to verify doctrine in the light of Scripture, and to trace how the various facts or texts of Scripture contribute to form the doctrine. But there is this difference betwixt the more recent and the older dogmatic method, that the modern theologian does not consider doctrines to be formed by a mere analysis and co-ordination of texts. They are not only logical deductions from Scriptural data; they are vital growths within the Christian consciousness. So the business of the theologian is not only to deduce conclusions from Scriptural premises, but to trace the vital links in the organism of Christian thought. He feels, moreover, the necessity of doing this in a true historic spirit; unfolding the doctrine from its first germ to its full outline; reading forward from the beginning, and not reading backward from the end, as has been so often done. This is what is meant by the historic method: not the discussion or estimate of past opinions, but the analysis from the first of a doctrine in its vital growth in the human consciousness. The modern theologian desires to look at the genesis of Christian ideas’ as far as possible in their own light; to see them as they grow, and not merely to handle them as past logical forms. He may fail in this. Misconceptions will cling to him in spite of himself; and he will 26look at the past in the light of the present, and judge it thereby. But at any rate he has breathed the new historic atmosphere which surrounds the modern intelligence, and he feels that the end is not as the beginning in doctrine any more than in anything else; that there is a continuous movement all along the line of its development; and that his proper business is not to carry back the fullness of the result to measure the first springs of the movement, but to study these springs as they rise in their first freshness, and to trace, with unforced and discriminating intelligence, their gradual advance till they swell into the full dogmatic utterance of the Church.

A confusion of the spheres of what have hitherto been called Nature and Revelation [See Appendix IV.] may seem to follow from this view. We have already spoken of the difficulty of discriminating these spheres in our own experience; and the extreme schools of religious opinion, both in this country and in Holland and Germany, willingly confuse them, and recognise nothing essentially distinctive in what we call Revelation. Yet there is nothing in the conception itself, or the method which has grown out of it, that necessitates this confusion. Both factors—the natural and supernatural, the human and the divine—are alike present in the formation of all religious thought. It may be impossible always to distinguish 27them; it is to us certainly impossible, at this stage of religious progress, to discriminate the elements either of a natural Ethic or a natural Religion separable from the course of Christian ideas, and self-authenticating on a basis of its own. The historic method has destroyed these presumptions of a former Deism, which tried vainly to stand aloof from the course of Christian intelligence. But, in doing so, it is so far from having destroyed the claims of Nature on the one hand, or Revelation on the other, that it has carried them up into a living unity of Christian Reason, or of Reason informed and enlightened by all the influences, higher and lower, divine and natural, which have nurtured and fashioned it from the beginning.

I shall endeavour, therefore, in these Lectures, to treat first the growth of the idea of evil, in its most general aspect, as it meets us in those forms of religious culture which preceded or were entirely outside of that divine education of the Hebrew race under which the special consciousness of sin was developed. This will bring before us the only purely “natural” notions on the subject-the workings of the human mind and feeling regarding it, untouched by any special revelation.

I shall then pass to consider the idea of evil as apprehended by the Hebrew mind, or the rise and progress in that mind of the idea of sin, under the 28special divine training to which it was subjected. I shall treat, in other words, of the Old Testament doctrine of sin, which is absolutely necessary to the understanding of the developed doctrine in the New Testament.

This fully developed doctrine will next engage us under the several significant aspects in which it took hold of the primitive Christian consciousness as represented in the New Testament Scriptures, especially as depicted in the Gospels and the Epistles of St. Paul. The doctrine of original sin, as the final expression of the Christian consciousness in the apostolic or first Christian age, will finally occupy us and close our present exposition.

There are endless collateral controversies as to moral freedom, the nature and extent of the moral law, the relation of sin in its origin to the human and divine will, set forth in various theories. But I shall endeavour to keep as close to the subject as I can. There is little good in following the inquiry into regions which transcend all experience and all means of reaching a verifiable conclusion, or in beating out the straw of old controversies which have lost all or most of their meaning. It is unnecessary to entangle ourselves with the thoughts of others, save where they bear directly upon our line of exposition. The subject, as thus sketched, is ample and interesting enough in itself to occupy our whole space.

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