IN the July number of the Quarterly Review there is an article reviewing the recent book of J. C. Morrison upon “The Service of Man or the Future Religion”. And although Mr. Morrison, in his book, writes to urge that the chief and primary principle of religion is “to promote the spirit of self-sacrifice, and to direct men’s energies to the service of their fellow creatures”, yet the Quarterly Review pours every kind of insult and obloquy on Mr. Morrison.
But herein is the gross contradiction, that the Quarterly Review admits that the primary principle of Christianity has the very same objects in view, as Mr. Morrison urges the future religion should have. And yet the Quarterly Reviewridicules Mr. Morrison, and describes his book as an attack upon Christianity.
Then, surely, when two persons thus fall out with one another, whilst both advocate the same lofty and noble principles, there must be some gross misunderstanding between them !
The error thus which they both labour under, is one and the same; for the Quarterly Review errs, in assuming that the teaching or doctrine of the Church is indisputably, and infallibly, the teaching or doctrine of Christ. And Mr. Morrison errs in assuming that the teaching or doctrine of Christ is the same as the doctrine of the Church.
So that if the teaching of the Church is not the teaching of Christ, then Mr. Morrison in attacking the supposed Christianity of the Church is not really [Page 319] attacking Christianity, but only attacking the spurious doctrine of the Church, which has passed current as Christianity; ex gr Isaiah, Jeremiah and Elijah, in denouncing the religion of the priests, did not attack true religion (as the priests would assert), but only their adulterated and spurious religion.
And Christ tells us that the Priests and Pharisees made the word of God of none effect by their traditions. And St. Paul tells us that, with the authority of the Chief Priest, he had, before conversion, imprisoned and put men to death, and made them blaspheme (Acts xxvi.,II) against God and the Church.
Therefore, before we accept the Church and Christianity to be synonymous terms, and not only signifying but being actually the Church of Christ, and so, verily, Christianity, we must have a clear and definite understanding as to what we mean, and wish others to understand what we mean, by “the Church”.
For the world, outside of Christianity, and often inside, is at its wits’ end to know which of the numerous churches and sects, which all claim to be the Church of Christ, is really and truly the Church of Christ because the World witnesses that they all reject one another.
Then surely, whilst the world witnesses rival and hostile churches all claiming to be “the Church” and Christianity, Mr. Morrison is not at all necessarily attacking the Church of Christ, or true Christianity, when he attacks the doctrine, or the Christianity of the churches.
And this proposition of course, opens and raises the question as to what is Christianity, which the Quarterly Review either avoids or assumes to be established, as being “a sound belief in the merits of the Saviour” which of course means belief in the Atonement as commonly taught. But how can the truth of Christianity be possibly established, whilst to this day the doctrine of Atonement taught by the Church as Christianity, cannot be reconciled as either good or true; and is moreover a mystery to the leaders of it, a stumbling block to the Jews, and foolishness to the world, making the preaching of the Church as Canon Liddon admits, utterly powerless ? The Quarterly Review assumes that the doctrine of the Church has been taught as Christianity for 1,800 years; and that I,800 years’ teaching of it has proved it to be Christianity, because the Quarterly Review assumes that there has been liberty for 1,800 years to disprove the doctrine of the Church, and that the doctrine of the Church, not having been disproved, is a proof that it cannot be disproved. But the fact that to this very day there is no liberty allowed in the pulpits of the National Churches to discuss the doctrine of the Church (it being a law with the rulers of the Church that “the doctrine of the Church may not be touched”), utterly refutes all the assumptions of the Quarterly Review.
For whilst there is no liberty, even for fair and candid criticism in the pulpit, on the doctrine of the Church, even in this age of liberty and education, there could have been none when the Church, for centuries, had power to imprison, slay, and excommunicate or boycott; and used it against those who even questioned the doctrine of the Church.
But we are told, by the great Bishop Butler, in his “Analogy of Religion” (and whom the Quarterly Review admits to be an authority of the very highest class), that the doctrine of Atonement is positively immoral, excepting for the supposed divine authority; and the Bishop himself looked forward to the day, [Page 320] when the progress of liberty and education should throw greater light upon this doctrine of the Church, and indisputably determine whether or no it has the divine authority, it was then supposed or asserted to have.
So great has been our progress in education and liberty that The Guardian of the 3rd August, in its review of this book of Mr. Morrison’s, says, if Christianity is Calvinism with its doctrine of substitution and justification, then it ismadness any longer to attempt defending the morality of Christianity.
It is true that it is one thing to make this admission in the review of a book, and another thing to publish it from the pulpit; and it is true that the admission would be withdrawn or crucified by silence; but the Quarterly Review itself, in its argument by analogy of the human and divine mind, admits that this doctrine of Atonement is immoral, because it admits that no authority could be divine which called immorality morality, as it asserts that whatever is moral humanly speaking, is also moral divinely speaking, only in an infinitely greater degree, and the converse. So that an attack on an immoral doctrine of the Church is not an attack on Christianity, if the doctrine of the Church is not the teaching of Christ, as it can be shown that it is not, as soon as liberty is allowed in the pulpits of the National Churches, for explaining the truth of a Crucified Christ, and removing the mystery that has been created, which causes it to be a stumbling block to the Jews, and foolishness to the world.
We are told that the late Archbishop Whately said, that if the Christian Religion did not come from God, miraculously (in the sense commonly taught), yet the religion, nevertheless, exists, and therefore the phenomenon has to be explained how it could have arisen and been propagated without miracles.
But the Quarterly Review asserts that for I,800 years all the attempts to explain it, without the aid of miracles, have utterly failed, and therefore it must foe assumed to be miraculous.
But before there can be any justification for such a bold assumption, as that what is taught as Christianity is infallibly, and indisputably, the teaching of Jesus Christ, what is meant by the term Christianity, or Christian religion must be clearly defined: for the Roman Catholic Church denounces the Protestant, and the Protestant denounces the Roman Church, as having naught to do with Christianity; so that even if there is anything held in common between these Churches (as “the faith of the Primitive Church”, or “the faith once delivered to the Saints”, or any other faith), yet whatever it is, or is called, it would seem to be of not the slightest value whatever, in saving them from rejecting one another absolutely.
Canon Liddon, however, asserts that all the doctrine and teaching of the Church derives its authority from a miraculous resurrection of Jesus with a material and physical body of flesh, blood, and bones, in direct defiance of the teaching of Jesus, that the flesh profiteth nothing, and that it was the words which He spoke, ”They were spirit, they were life”. (John vi., 63.)
And if we believe that the Holy Spirit of God could speak without the aid of a material body, composed of flesh, blood, and bones, in a still small voice to the conscience or soul of Moses and Elijah (i Kings xix., 12); and if we believe that the same Holy Spirit is present even now (where two or three are gathered together — Matt, xvii., 23), why should not the presence of the still [Page 321] small voice of the Holy Spirit, speaking to the conscience or soul of the Apostles, be of itself deemed sufficient, without needing the aid of a material body ?
Again, if the presence of the still small voice of the Holy Spirit, speaking to the soul of man, has been deemed sufficient by the world both before the crucifixion of Christ, and since the crucifixion of Christ, why should it be deemed necessary to raise up the crucified One, with a body of flesh, blood and bones, only to teach what the still small voice of the Holy Spirit was able, willing, and present to teach, and to doubt which would be Atheism ? And, moreover, whilst such teaching was sufficient, it would be a contradiction to vouchsafe more.
Therefore, if the still small voice of the Holy Spirit is sufficient and present to guide us into all truth, it must have been sufficient for the Apostles also (John xvi., 13); and, therefore, Christ’s religion is not dependent upon a material resurrection of the body, with flesh, blood and bones.
Here, once more, we see the necessity of liberty being allowed in the pulpit, for fair and candid criticism on the doctrine of the Church, for the purpose of eliminating error and eliciting truth; so that it may be clearly seen and known what is Christ’s religion, as it might indeed be possible that a material resurrection would seem necessary to support the doctrine of the Church, though wholly unnecessary for the support of Christ’s religion, or gospel.
Although the Quarterly Review asserts that men have failed for 1,800 years to account for the existence of Christianity, unless it had a miraculous resurrection to support it, yet it by no means follows that, because a miracle is supposed to be needed to support a doctrine of the Church, therefore a miracle is needed for supporting the doctrine, gospel, or religion of Christ; which exists, and will continue to exist, without needing the aid of belief in a miraculous resurrection of the material body, to support it. And it only needs that there should be liberty allowed in the pulpits of the National Churches to show the deficiency of faith in Christ’s spiritual resurrection, to see there is no need for belief in that carnal, gross, and material resurrection of the body, with flesh, blood and bones.
Then, let there be liberty allowed in the pulpits of the National Churches; because it is not true that there has ever been liberty for 1,800 years to explain the Mystery of a Crucified Christ; for, it is refused to the present day. If any man, on behalf of the Church, contradicts this, and asserts there is liberty to explain, in the Church, the truth of a crucified Christ, let him mention one Church, or one clergyman that will allow it, and I will test its truth by asking for the same permission that the rulers of the Synagogue accorded to St. Paul at Antioch, Acts xiii., 15.
The Quarterly Review says the clergy have no objection to free discussion — that it is the very air they breathe, and that it has been the life of Christian Truth. These are bold and brave words, but where is there even one clergyman that will endorse them, and act upon them ? Where ?
Isaiah says, “Open ye the gates that the truth may enter in” (xxvi., 2). But instead of reverencing the just and righteous “Son of Man”, the chief priests and rulers of the Ancient Church condemned “the Just One”, to be slain as a blasphemer, whose blood ought to be shed for an Atonement. And the chief priests of our Church have combined that this doctrine should not be [Page 322] touched, so that by their practice they make their statement of the Quarterly Review utterly untrue. For if there is one clergyman, A.D. 1887, who will support the Quarterly Review‘s statement, and open his pulpit for explaining the truth of “Christ crucified” and proclaiming Christian truth, as taught by Christ — Where is he ? and who is he ?
And if there is not one, then need the Church be surprised that men attack, not the Christianity of Jesus Christ, but only an erroneous doctrine of the Church, miscalled Christianity ?
(REV.) T. G. HEADLEY.
Manor House, Petersham, S. W.
P.S. — Although the Quarterly Review admits that Mr. Morrison has established a high position in literature, and that he seeks to promote the same lofty and noble principles as true Christianity inculcates; yet it speaks of Mr. Morrison’s book as bad and incomplete; feeble and illogical; full of perversities, monstrosities, misrepresentations, and misquotations; adding, that it is bitter, unscrupulous, ignorant, inconsistent, offensive, bullying, brow-beating, overbearing, absurd, and ridiculous, as well as indecent and false; insulting and flagrant; inconsecutive and unjust; full of jugglery and a disgrace.
Is this an exhibition of how theologians, or the clergy, as the reviewer is most probably a clergyman, love free discussion, and crucify those from whom they differ by damning them in this gross manner ?