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of sermons upon his shelves as soon as he had settled, and read them often and deeply in close companionship with the Bible.
We are bound to say that Mr. Robertson, in common with the Broad School to which he belonged in the Church of England, held what we believe to be defective views of the doctrine of our Lord's sacrifice. He repudiates almost violently the notion that Christ died as our substitute. That the Saviour böre the punishment due to our sin as the method by which we can obtain pardon, is a doctrine to him utterly revolting. Hear what he says: “Let no man say that God was angry with his Son. We are sometimes told of a mysterious anguish which Christ endured, the consequence of divine wrath; the sufferings of a heart laden with the conscience of the world's transgressions, which he was bearing as if they were his own sins. Do not add to the Bible what is not in the Bible. The Redeemer's conscience was not bewildered to feel that his own which was not his own. He suffered no wrath of God.' Any one who has read these volumes must feel assured that Mr. Robertson has long and anxiously studied this question of questions-this deepest, darkest question which the incarnation of Christ presents. In which way, in what sense, did Christ die for our sins? Can the innocent endure the punishment due to the guilty ? Mr. Robertson answers No. Not in the popular theological meaning of those expressions. How then ? This is as definite an answer as he can give us:
Christ came into collision with the world's evil, and he bore the penalty of that daring. He approached the whirling wheel, and was torn in pieces. He laid his hand upon the cockatrice's den, and its fangs pierced him. It is the law which governs the conflict with evil. It can be crushed by suffering from it. The Son of Man, who puts his naked foot on the serpent's head, crushes it, but the fang goes into his heel.' True, unquestionably, as far as it goes; but not an explanation found in the Bible, and encompassed with as many difficulties as the explanation he repudiates, if regarded as a complete account of the sufferings of Christ. Grant that the pure mind of Christ could not suffer the conscience of sin; and yet the Old and New Testament are so full of phrases importing that, in some sense, he bore our sins, that he suffered the just for the unjust, and so on-phrases, the depth and fulness of which do not seem to be reached and exhausted by the theory which Mr. Robertson and Mr. Maurice put forth. Does not this long-standing controversy sufficiently teach us that, after all that has been urged on both sides, there is no theory on the atonement in the word of God? But it is a great fact in God's government left unexplained, that we obtain redemption through his blood-even the forgiveness of sins.' Why not be content with preaching so great a truth just as it stands, instead of pausing and hesitating to make the announcement in all its fulness, till we can understand how it can be ?
We have now discharged our conscience, and can proceed to speak more freely of these volumes and their excellences.
All the great religious thinkers of the world have felt deeply and
struggled to utter that awful sense of wonder and mystery with which this life fills them. The hard, unpoetical, or merely theological mind cannot appreciate this element of higher natures; to him, as to Peter Bell, a primrose is a primrose ; God is a being whose existence he has proved, and whose attributes he has catalogued and described definitely. “This brave o’erhanging firmament’ fills him with no thoughts too deep for tears.' Time and eternity have no perplexities for him beyond his own personal vexations. Let us give an extract from a sermon on ‘Jacob's wrestling'-one of the finest in these volumes—to illustrate what we said at the beginning of this paragraph
"To be blessed by God—to know him and what he is—that is the battle of Jacob's soul from sunset till the dawn of day.
* And that is our struggle—the struggle. Let any true man go down into the deeps of his own being and answer us,—what is the cry that comes from the most real parts of his nature? Is it the cry for daily bread ? Jacob asked for that in his first communing with God -preservation, safety. Is it it even this—to be forgiven our sins ? Jacob had a sin to be forgiven, and in that most solemn moment of his existence he did not say a syllable about it. Or, is it this, “Hallowed be thy name?" No, my brethren. Out of our frail, and yet sublime humanity, the demand that rises in the earthlier hours of our religion may be this,-Save my soul! but in the most unearthly moments it is this,-"Tell me thy name!” We move through a world of mystery ; and the deepest question is, what is the Being
that is ever near-sometimes felt-never seen. That which has haunted us from childhood with a dream of something surpassingly fair, which has never yet been realized ;-that which sweeps through the soul as a desolation, like the blast from the wings of the angel of death, leaving us stricken and silent in our loneliness ;—that which has touched us in our tenderest point, and the flesh has quivered with agony, and our mortal affections have shrivelled up with pain;-that which comes to us in aspirations of nobleness and conceptions of superhuman excellence. Shall we say It or He? What is it? Who is he? Those anticipations of immortality and God—what are they? Are they the mere throbbings of my own heart, heard and mistaken for a living something beside me? Are they the sound of my own wishes, echoing through the vast void of nothingness? or shall I call them God, Father, Spirit, Love? A living Being within me or outside me?
Tell me thy name, thou awful Mystery of Loveliness. That is the struggle of all earnest life.'
We must also quote the reason the preacher gives why God does not tell Jacob his name.
"He blessed him there, but refused to tell his name. • Wherefore dost thou ask after my name ? In this, too, seems to lie a most important truth. Names have a power, a strange power, of hiding God. Speech has been sarcastically defined as the art of hiding thought. Well, that sarcastic definition has in it a truth, The Eternal Word is the revealer of God's thoughts, and every true word of man is originally the expression of a thought; but by degrees the word hides the thought. Language is valuable for the things of this life; but for the things of the other world, it is an encumbrance almost as much as an assistance. Words often hide from us our ignorance of even earthly truth. The child asks for information, and
, we satiate his curiosity with words. Who does not know how we satisfy ourselves with the name of some strange bird or plant, or the name of some new law in nature? It is a mystery perplexing us before. We get the name and fancy we understand something more than we did before ; but in truth we are more hopelessly ignorant: for before we felt there was a something we had not attained, and so we inquired and searched; now, we fancy we possess it, because we have got the name by which it is known : and the word covers over the abyss of our ignorance. If Jacob had got a word, that word might have satisfied him. He would have said, “Now I understand God, and know all about him.")
The person of Christ is a subject difficult to speak of, except in general terms. Orthodox Christians, in the rebound from Unitarianism, have dwelt almost exclusively upon the divine part of his constitution; so that it has become difficult to realize to ourselves the thorough humanity of our Lord. There are some striking and wonderfully suggestive thoughts on this subject in several of these sermons; but we make a quotation from a remarkable discourse on ‘The early Development of Jesus.'
'The child, it is written, grew. Two pregnant facts. He was a child, and a child that grew in heart, in intellect, in size, in grace, in favour with God and man. Not a man in child's years. No hotbed precocity marked the holiest of infancies. The Son of Man grew up in the quiet valley of existence-in shadow, not in sunshine-not forced. No unnatural stimulating culture had developed the mind or feelings : no public flattery, no sunning of his infantine perfections in the glare of the world's show, had brought the temptation of the wilderness, with which his manhood grappled, too early on his soul. We know that he was childlike as other children, for in after years his brethren thought his fame strange, and his townsmen rejected him. They could not believe that one who had gone in and out, ate and drank, and worked, was he whose name is Wonderful. The proverb, true of others, was true of him : 'A prophet is not without honour but in his own country, and among his own kin, and in his own house. You know him in a picture at once, by the halo round his brow. There was no glory in his real life to mark him. He was in the world, and the world knew him not. Gradually and gently he woke to consciousness of life and its manifold meaning, found himself in possession of a self; by degrees opened his eyes upon this outer world and drank in its beauty. Early he felt the lily of the field discourse to him of that Invisible Loveliness, and the ravens tell of God his Father. Gradually, and not at once, he embraced the
sphere of human duties, and woke to his earthly relationships one by one,--the son, the brother, the citizen, the master.'
There are some beautiful passages in a sermon on “The first Miracle, one of which we will quote, illustrative of the comple e humanity of Christ.
"Our humanity is a whole, made up of two opposite poles of character—the manly and the feminine. In the character of Christ neither was found exclusively, but both in perfect balance. He was the Son of Man—the human being-perfect man. There was in him the woman. heart as well as the manly brain; all that was most manly, and all that was most womanly. Remember what he was in life; recollect his stern, iron hardness in the temptation of the desert; recollect the calmness that never quailed in all the uproars of the people, the truth that never faltered, the strict, severe integrity which characterised the Witness of the truth ; recollect the justice that never gave way to weak feeling—which let the rich young ruler go his way to perish if he would—which paid the tribute-money-which held the balance fair between the persecuted woman and her accuser, but did not suffer itself to be betrayed by sympathy into any feeble tenderness—the justice that rebuked Peter with indignation, and pronounced the doom of Jerusalem unswervingly. Here is one side or pole of human character, surely not the feminine side. Now, look at the other ; recollect the twice recorded tears, which a man would have been ashamed to show, and which are never beautiful in man except when joined with strength like his; and recollect the sympathy craved and yearned for as well as given the shrinking from solitude in prayer—the trembling of a sorrow unto death—the considerate care which provided bread for the multitude, and said to the tired disciples, as with a sister's rather than a brother's thoughtfulness, “ Come ye apart into the desert, and rest awhile.” This is the other side or pole of human character, surely not the masculine.'
Almost the first glance into these sermons will reveal to you the spirit of a man who longs for truth and reality more than for daily bread-of a man who cuts sheer down into the heart of things, and who resolutely will strip life and religion of all that is conventional, and look then at them not as they seem, but as they eternally are. There is as little of the Churchman about him as possible; you might read ten sermons out of a dozen, and not know that he was a clergyman. But, as with Kingsley and Maurice, you are here and there slightly annoyed that he should be so anxious about the Prayer Book, and should spend so much superior force of intellect to make his statements square with the formulas of that manual. But let that pass. We can, nevertheless, appreciate such passages as the following. Speaking of the ministry of John the Baptist, he says, “We have another cause to assign for John's success. Men felt that he was real. Reality is the secret of all services. Religion in Jerusalem had long become a thing of forms. en had settled into a routine of externa
as if all religion centred in these. Decencies and proprieties formed the sub
stance of human life. And here was a man in God's world once more, who felt that religion was an everlasting reality; here was a man once more, to tell the world that life is sliding into an abyss; that all we see is but a shadow; that the invisible life within is the only real. Here was a man who could feel the splendours of God shining into his soul in the desert without the aid of forms. His locust-food, his hair-garment, his indifference to earthly comforts, spoke out once more that one at least would make it a conviction to live and die upon, that man does not live upon bread alone, but on the living word which proceedeth out of the mouth of God. And when that crowd dispersed at sunset, and John was left alone in the twilight, with the infinite of darkness deepening round him, and the roll of Jordan by his side, reflecting the chaste clear stars, there was something there higher than Pharisaic forms to speak to him. There was heaven and eternity to force him to be real. This life was swiftly passing. What was it to a man living like John, but a show and a dream ? He was homeless upon earth. Well, but beyond, beyond, in the blue eternities above, there was the prophet's home. He had cut himself off from the solaces of life. He was to make an enemy of the man of honour, Herod. He had made an enemy of the man of religion, the Pharisee. But he was passing into that country, where it matters little whether a man has been clothed in finest linen or in coarsest camel's-hair ; that still country, where the struggle storm of life is over, and such as John find their rest at last in the home of God, which is reserved for the true and brave. If perpetual familiarity with such thoughts as these cannot make a man real, there is nothing in this world that can.
As a fitting supplement and commentary to the foregoing passage, take the following from the sermon on The Glory of the Divine Son, as illustrative of his deep insight into the real nature of life's struggle :
• The ascetic life of abstinence, of fasting, austerity, singularity, is the lower and earthlier form of religion. The life of godliness is the glory of Christ. It is a thing far more striking to the vulgar imagination to be religious, after the type and pattern of John the Baptist -to fast—to mortify every inclination—to be found at no feast—to wrap ourselves in solitariness and abstain from all social joys-yes, and far easier so to live, and far easier so to win a character for religiousness. A silent man is easily reputed wise. A man who suffers none to see him in the common jostle and undress of life easily gathers round him a mysterious veil of unknown sanctity, and men honour him for a saint. The unknown is always wonderful. But the life
a of Him whom men called a gluttonous man and a winebibber, a friend of publicans and sinners, was a far harder and a far heavenlier religion. To shroud ourselves in no false mist of holiness: to dare to show ourselves as we are, making no solemn affectation of reserve or difference from others : to be found at the marriage feast: to accept the invitation of the rich Pharisee Simon and the scorned Publican Zac