11 FEBRUARY 1882, Page 37


THESE "few last words" may be taken as the summing-up by Dr. Farrar of a long and protracted controversy. They ought to represent his calm and deliberate judgment on all the topics in dispute. It cannot be said of this volume, as was said of Eternal Hope, that it was hastily written, not designed for pub- lication, and was published reluctantly in self-defence. Any defects of method and of manner which may appear here must be due to causes more inherent than these. This volume must be treated as a grave theological treatise, in the composition of which the author has put forth his utmost strength, and used all his resources. He has taken time ; he has had the advantage of innumerable criticisms ; he has to meet the objections of com- petent theologians, who are worthy foemen. Strange to say, however, the grave theological treatise bears the signs of haste and the habits of rhetorical exaggeration which marked the hastily-written sermons. We find in it a general vagueness of treatment, and an indefiniteness of result, and an inability to distinguish between obvious differences of position which is perplexing. Dr. Farrar has been working at one topic of Christian eschatology for years, and has published his views of it in a treatise of nearly five hundred pages, and yet it is scarcely possible to say what these views really are. There seems to be an evasion of direct issues ; the author seems to belong at the same time to contradictory schools of theological thought; in fact, no more perplexing book has passed through our hands for a lengthened period.

The main purpose of Dr. Farrar, as far as we can gather it, is to wage war with certain accretions which have gathered round the doctrine of everlasting punishment. He does not professedly object to the doctrine of endless punishment for some. But he fights with something like desperation against the manner of it, and the number supposed to be affected by it, The special accretions are these :—" 1. That the fire of hell' is material, and that its agonies are physical agonies. 2. That the doom of everlasting damnation' is incurred by the vast majority of mankind. 3. That this doom is passed irreversibly at death on all who die in a state of sin. 4. That the duration of these material torments is necessarily endless for all who incur them." Against these four propositions, Dr. Farrar brings all the argument, from history, exegesis, and from moral feeling, which he can find. It is impossible for us to enter with any detail into the argument, but several things may be said within our limits. Dr. Farrar, and Dr. Pusey also, seem to think, and, in fact, have said, that these accretions to the doc- trine of everlasting punishment may or may not be held by other schools of theology, bat mast be held by Calvinists. It is not the habit of the Spectator to express sympathy with Calvinism, still, it is a matter of simple historical justice to say that some of the propositions anathematised by Dr. Farrar are no necessary part of Calvinism. If there be any one whom Calvinists recognise as their theologian, it is the late Dr. Hodge, of Princeton, U.S. On these topics, Dr. Hodge says :—" All the descendants of Adam, except Christ, are under condemna- tion ; all the descendants of Adam, except those of whom it is expressly revealed that they cannot inherit the kingdom of God, are saved. This appears to be the clear meaning of the Apostle, and, therefore, he does not hesitate to say that where sin abounded, grace has much more abounded ; that the benefits of redemption far exceed the evils of the fall ; that the number of the saved far exceed the number of the lost." (Systematic Theology, Vol. I, p. 26.) Again, as to the degrees of punish- ment :—" Our Lord teaches that those who have sinned with a knowledge of God's will, shall be beaten with many stripes ; that those who sinned without such knowledge, shall be beaten with few stripes ; that it shall be more

tolerable in the day of judgment for the heathen, even for Sodom and Gomorrha, than for those who perish under the light of the Gospel. The Judge of all the earth will do right. No human being will suffer more than he deserves, or more than his own conscience will recognise as just." (pp.

27-28.) Why did Dr. Farrar take his representations of the doctrine from the heated and exaggerated versions of it current in popular speech, where calm thought, exact expression, and measured language are not usually found ? Why has he per- petuated in his own books, on the other side of the question, a

• Mercy and Judgment : a Few Last Words on Christian Eschatology, with Refer- ence to Dr. Pussy's " What is of Faith!" By F. W. Farrar, D.D., F.R.S., Canon of Westminster. London : Macmillan and Co.

mode of statement and state of feeling fitted to lead men's minds away from a calm consideration of the question ? If he had taken his representations of doctrine from such works as those of Dr. Hodge, he would have written more calmly, more wisely, and with a better prospect of contributing to the lasting settlement of a great doctrine. The more diligently we read Dr. Farrar's volume, the greater grows our difficulty in understanding his position. He lays great stress again and again on his agreement with Dr. Pusey. " While in form," he says, " this book is a reply to Dr. Pusey, in reality my conclusions are identical with his, except on minor points of history and criticism." And again, " To show that I am not exaggerating the amount of agreement which exists in all essential particulars between myself and the eminent theologian who answered my appeal, I may quote this sentence from one of the letters which I had the honour to receive from him It is a great relief to me,' he says, that you can substitute the con- ception of a future purification [instead of a state of probation], for those who have not utterly extinguished the grace of God in their hearts. This, I think, will put you in harmony with the whole of Christendom, Now, I have no sort of difficulty in accepting the view of a "future purification," instead of a "future probation," because, so far as I can discover, I had scarcely even referred to the idea of probation at all, and certainly had laid no stress on it A new trial is no essential part of my view, nor directly or consciously a part of it at all. " (Mercy and Judgment, p. 19.) There is no difficulty in understanding the view of Dr. Pusey. It is apparent to all students of the history of theology, and he has often stated it, and has stated it anew in his recent volume, to which this book of Dr. Farrar is a professed reply. " The time of gaining grace," says Dr. Posey, " in the belief of the Roman Church equally with our own, is over with this life." " It is an article of faith," says the Dublin Review, " that the souls of those who die in mortal sin go down to hell' immediately after death, and are punished with the punishment of hell." We have no doubt that Dr. Posey felt unspeakable relief, when ke found that Dr. Farrar was prepared to substitute a state of purification for a state of probation. But the surprising thing is that Dr. Farrar should imagine that he agrees with Dr. Pusey. There are some articles of Dr. Farrar's creed which we are persuaded Dr. Pusey would utterly repudiate. " I believe that man's destiny stops not at the grave, and that many who knew not Christ here will know him there. I believe that, in the depths of the Divine Compassion, there may be oppor- tunity to win faith in the future state. I believe that hereafter —whether by means of the almost sacrament of death,' or in other ways unknown to us—God's mercy may reach many who, to all earthly appearance, might seem to us to die in a lost and unregenerate state." At present, we are not concerned with the truth of Dr. Farrar's articles of faith. We ask, is there not a vital difference between these articles he has formulated, and the statement he has made to Dr. Pusey, that he lays no stress on a future probation? What is a future probation, what a new trial, if it be not opportunity to win faith in the future state ?

This is only one of many examples which might be adduced of the singular inability of Dr. Farrar to understand the scope, bearing, historical and logical relations of the doctrines he has to deal with. A similar inability is manifested in all his state- ments of the opinions held by the Fathers of the Church, by Jewish writers, and by modern writers. If he has failed to grasp the view of Dr. Pusey, and failed to see its incompatibility with his own arguments and positions, how can we expect him to see and represent adequately the opinions of men far re- moved from us in time, in moral, intellectual, and social con- dition? We will not, therefore, enter on any examination of these representations ; we shall only say that his account of the opinions of the Jews at the time of our Lord, is vitiated in many ways. He has failed to distinguish between popular opinion and the opinion of the schools. He has not discharged the burden of proof which has fallen on him, and he has not met in any sufficient way the statement of Dr. Pusey.

While we might not have expected Dr. Farrar to be at home in the sphere of dogmatic theology, we certainly were disposed to listen to him with respect on a philological question. But in this also we have been disappointed. One of the first things incumbent on him, is that he should explain the genesis and history of the opinions he denounces. He must account for the opinion and belief. But he only denounces them. They will stand, until they are rationally accounted for and historically explained. His contention is that the words " aion " and " aionial " do not necessarily mean " endless." It is strange, in his view, how the lexicographers should have fallen into the mistake they have made with respect to the word " aion." Cremer says :—" Accordingly, the expansion of the conception to time unlimited (eternity a parte ante and a parte post) was easy, for it simply involved the abstraction of the idea of limitation, and thus the word came to signify unlimited duration." Grimm gives as Latin synonyms "continuum aevnm," " perpetnitas temporis," " aeternitas." And Passow renders it by " Ewig- keit." Now, Dr. Farrar gives us no explanation of the way in which these distinguished men came to give these meanings to the word. But let us hear Dr. Farrar :—" The word eternal,' if it could be dissociated from the vulgar confusion which takes it to mean endless,' would be a very fitting translation for aionios." Everlasting' is a translation which ought never to have been imposed upon us, and which now, it is hoped, will disappear. If taken literally, it fixes a meaning upon a word in some places which it cannot have in other places. It tends to make permanent an unwarrantable decision of a question which has again and again been successfully dis- puted Aionios,' then, so far as it has any reference to duration at all, means, as Schleusner accurately says, duration determined by the subject to which it is applied.' But very often there is no direct reference to duration. When the Fathers talked of the eternal generation' of the Son, did they mean endless generation ?' " Dr. Farrar's book is rich in surprises. But, perhaps, the greatest surprise is in the paragraph we have quoted. Grant to him that " aionios " may be most properly rendered by " eternal,"—grant, moreover, that eternity is the timeless state, then all his elaborate argumenta- tion has vanished into nothingness. In the Aioniau state, he cannot speak of change, succession, or any other thing which implies the category of time. If he excludes endlessness, by the same rale he excludes end. Does not Dr. Farrar see that if he precludes us from attaching the idea of duration to the phase " aionian " or "eternal," by that definition he constrains us to attach to it the idea of unchangeableness ? His argument im- plies that in the eternal state there must be either end or change, or both, but his conception of " eternal " renders it impossible that such should ever be.

We have not entered on the great subject which is the pro- fessed theme of Dr. Farrar's work. We have only criticised some of his ways and methods of discussing it. And our object is to show that the mode of discussion pursued by Dr. Farrar is utterly inadequate and unprofitable. It needs other gifts and other culture than his, as it also needs a calmer, more deliberate way of treatment than he has given to it. It requires other qualifications than ready speech and a great command of rhetorical expression. It needs acquaintance with the scope, bearings, and interpretations of doctrines; it needs knowledge of the historical evolution of thought in the Christian world ; it needs knowledge of human nature ; and, above all, it needs careful, balanced, guarded statement ; and these requirements are conspicuous by their absence, in the new volume of Dr. Farrar.