Page images

philosophical truth, and we think that for the appropriation of this element of truth Dr. Stirling's able volume furnishes most seasonable and effectual aid. And if some of our readers should, like ourselves, be unable to follow Kant with perfect satisfaction through the Transcendental Analytic, the strenuous effort to do this, under Dr. Stirling's guidance, will assuredly result in no small mental gain.




YANON FARRAR here winds up the long controversy created by

[ocr errors]

revolution may be effected in relation to some popular religious opinions. A few years ago those who wished to entertain a hope that the mercy of God might reach beyond the grave, found it all but impossible. The Scriptures seemed to speak with the utmost plainness and decision as to never-ending punishment. The doctrine was found in creeds and liturgies, not indeed so much as an article of faith that had been defined because somebody had called it in question, but as one of those things assumed to be undisputed. Men of daring intellects like Origen had supposed restitution probable, or had at least expressed a hope that in some way unknown to them it might be possible. But had not the Church Catholic condemned Origen, and since that time has there not been an unfailing tradition that the never-ending punishment of the wicked was part of the Catholic faith? The great preachers of all churches, East and West, Anglican, Presbyterian, and Nonconformist, had guarded sacredly the doctrine of a never-ending hell in which the great majority of mankind were to burn for ever. It might have been argued that surely if ever a doctrine answered to the criterion of Vincentius Lirinensis it was this; and yet Dr. Farrar has brought weighty arguments to prove that its existence in Scripture is very doubtful, and that it has never been a necessary part of the Catholic faith.

This present volume takes the form of an answer to Dr. Pusey, and the result is that the two doctors of divinity, though representing entirely different, not to say antagonistic, theologies, are apparently more agreed than at first sight could have been expected. Men rarely understand those who differ from them, and, strange to say, Dr. Farrar finds it necessary, in the very first page, to say emphatically that he never denied "the possible endlessness of punishment.' It is a subject on which he dare not dogmatise, a subject on which the Church has not dogmatised, and on which the Scripture writers speak, as they do on all transcendent


Mercy and Judgment. A few Last Words on Christian Eschatology, with reference to Dr. Pusey's "What is of Faith?" By F. W. FARRAR, D.D. London: Macmillan and Co. 1831.

subjects, in indefinite or metaphorical language. It is not against a dogma that he contends, but against an accumulation of errors, which constitute the current or popular belief.

Dr. Farrar discourses of four points which he regards as accretions to the Catholic faith. The first is that the fire of hell is corporeal, and its tortures physical. That this was believed not merely by ignorant or popular preachers, but by learned theologians, is shown by a long list of quotations from Fathers, schoolmen, and modern theologians, both Roman Catholic and Protestant. Yet the nature of the sufferings of hell has never been defined; whether they are mental or physical is a mere scholastic question. The second accretion is that the vast majority of mankind are doomed to endless torments. It has been said that on this question Lacordaire changed the faith of the Roman Catholic Church. The Church itself was never committed to any belief on the subject. But in the time of Massillon the number of the saved was believed to be small. Now many eminent theologians of the Roman Catholic Church believe in the ultimate salvation of the vast majority of mankind. It is, however, certain that this has not been the general opinion of the theologians of any church.

The third supposed accretion is that there is no such thing as a ter. minable punishment beyond the grave. A termination to punishment is found in the Purgatory of the Roman Catholics, which, however mixed up with many things that are "Romish," may yet be identified with the intermediate state which is a doctrine of the Early Church. On the present, as well as on the first two, there is a verbal agreement between the two doctors; but under this agreement there is a difference, which, it appears to us, Dr. Farrar has too anxiously ignored. Dr. Pusey denies any further probation, and only admits a purification; agreeing here with Dr. Newman, who said, in a letter to Dr. Plumptre-" What we cannot accept is ... that man's probation for his eternal destiny, as well as his purification, continues after this life." Dr. Farrar makes it indifferent whether there is a purification or probation; and so it would be if all were to undergo the purification, and so perhaps be finally saved. But if it is not a probation, it cannot be extended to all, as only those souls pass into Purgatory which are not good enough for Paradise, but which are yet among the saved. And this runs into the next question, which is, that "the supposition of the necessarily endless duration of hell for all who incur it," is also an accretion to the Catholic faith. Dr. Farrar persuades himself that on this point he is at one with Dr. Pusey, because he believes that "the soul which never repents to the end will suffer to the end," words which evidently imply that probation continues; while Dr. Pusey and Dr. Newman merely allow a purification, which extends only to a certain class. Dr. Farrar seems from the first to have been under an illusion as to the charity of the Roman Catholic Church. Its hell is as terrible and as endless as the hell of President Edwards or Mr. Spurgeon, and as many go into it. It is only the souls of the faithful which are admitted to the purgatorial purification, and these,

it is commonly understood, are only to be found within the pale of the Church.


Dr. Farrar is at issue with Dr. Pusey on a multitude of details, such as the meaning of the words usually translated "eternal," or everlasting," the meaning of " Gehenna," which, he maintains, was not an endless hell, but a place of terminable punishment,-the judgment of the Fathers, whose universal consent Dr. Pusey claimed as on his side. But against Dr. Pusey's list of names and quotations Dr. Farrar sets another, equally, if not more, imposing. The chapters on Origen and the Councils by which he was condemned, are of special interest. The idea of final restitution has been represented as first broached by Origen, but immediately condemned by the universal Church as heretical. Dr. Farrar shows, on the contrary, that four Ecumenical Councils and several Synods were held after Origen's death without any condemnation of him or his theory. If his doctrine of the restitution of man was ever declared heretical by an Ecumenical Council (which is held to be very doubtful), it was not till three hundred years after his death, and the Council was one that "goes for very little, being by no means a creditable assembly." JOHN HUNT.



HE re-issue of Dr. Lechler's Life of Wiclif in its English dress,* gives us an opportunity of congratulating historical and theological students that a work of its various, and in some respects unique, merits should be introduced to this country. It is remarkable how seldom the attempt has been made by Englishmen to furnish a biography of the great schoolman. Only two works of this sort deserve mention; one was published in 1720, the second in 1828. The latter is, of course, the standard biography by Dr. Robert Vaughan, who collected every fragment of manuscript evidence in regard to Wiclif that he could lay his hands on, but who, curiously enough, ignored almost entirely Wiclif's Latin writings. It is in this direction that his book departs most widely from that now before us; for Dr. Lechler has explored, with indefatigable pains, the rich stores of Wiclif literature, contained in near forty manuscript volumes-the plunder of the Bohemian monasteries-in the Imperial Library at Vienna. Every page of the work bears witness to the exhaustive knowledge of these documents-hitherto hardly opened-which the venerable author possesses. Nor has he failed to make use of the select English works of Wiclif, lately edited by Mr. Thomas Arnold (whom, we may notice, Dr. Lechler does not, in the German, signify by the title of "Reverend," a title added by the translator, and hardly com *John Wiclif and his English Precursors. By Professor LECHLER, D.D. Translated from the German, with additional Notes, by PETER LORIMER, D.D. New edition, in one volume. London Kegan Paul, Trench, and Co. 1881.

patible with the position of a Catholic layman). Indeed, it would be difficult to point out a department of his subject about which Dr. Lechler has not learnt all there is to learn, or which he has not illustrated with a fulness of reference and solid quotation hitherto unapproached.


The strength of such a work, and the fruit of such researches, should appear less in the actual biography than in the treatment of Wiclif's theological system. It is, however, to be deplored that Dr. Lechler has not chosen to digest Wiclif's system in the order of the thinker's mind, on the lines of his great Theory of Dominion. He has simply arranged and compared the scholasticism of Wiclif with the scholasticism of Luther, and docketed it with the nomenclature of justification, sanctification, and all the curious vocabulary of the reformers. In fact, Wiclif is seen by Dr. Lechler exclusively as a Reformer before the Reformation." He has no interest for him otherwise. His metaphysics are passed by perfunctorily; and in his theology it is only the points of alliance and the points of difference that receive copious treatment. It is evident, however, that "contact" and "divergence" fail entirely to express Wiclif's relation to the later reformers. His world is another world than theirs, and the whole grasp of his mind held in by totally different conditions. We can only appreciate the great teacher justly when we have erected the fabric of his theological system as be built it; afterwards we may fairly lay this system beside that of Huss, of Luther, or of Calvin. It is unjust and uncritical to cut it into fragments, shaped after the pattern of the Reformation, and estimate the bits according to their likeness or unlikeness to this criterion. It may be added, moreover, that this was not Dr. Lechler's declared intention; only, writing as an Evangelical divine, he saw no other way open to him, he could not conceive a quasi-evangelical system differently arranged from his own. He has advanced before most writers of his school, in so far that he has laudably attempted to regard Wiclif as he stands in relation to the general course of religious thought in the later Middle Ages; but the survey, considered as a philosophical exposition, loses its lucidity and unity in consequence of the same primary defect.

John Wiclif and his English Precursors is far from covering the same field as the original, Johann von Wiclif und die Vorgeschichte der Reformation. It is, in fact, only a translation of three parts of Dr. Lechler's first volume. We lose the valuable summary of the opposition to the Catholic Church in Continental Europe from the Waldenses ɔnwards; and we have nothing so compact and thorough in English. But more than this, the entire second volume, with the history of Wiclif's followers, the Lollards, the Hussites (including an elaborate biography of Huss), and all the other streams of religious opinion that tended towards the gulf of the reformation, is entirely omitted. This is much to be regretted, since Dr. Lechler is at his best as an historian. He is learned, laboriously accurate in detail, entirely conscientious; and his narrative is throughout orderly and clear, above the measure of most German books. In the actual biography of Wiclif there is room for littie but praise.

« PreviousContinue »