Occasional Papers eBook

Richard William Church
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 378 pages of information about Occasional Papers.
really mean what, according to all ordinary rules of construction, they must mean.”  It really must be said that the “outrage,” if so it is to be called, is not on the side of the popular belief.  And why does this belief seem untenable to Mr. Maurice?  Because it seems inconsistent to him with a truth which he states and enforces with no less earnestness than reason, that Christ is every moment judging us—­that His tribunal is one before which we in our inmost “being are standing now—­and that the time will come when we shall know that it is so, and when all that has concealed the Judge from us shall be taken away.”  Doubtless Christ is always with us—­always seeing us—­always judging us.  Doubtless “everywhere” in Scripture the idea is kept before us of judgment in its fullest, largest, most natural sense, as “importing” not merely passing sentence, and awarding reward or penalty, but “discrimination and discovery.  Everywhere that discrimination or discovery is supposed to be exercised over the man himself, over his internal character, over his meaning and will.”  Granted, also, that men have, in their attempts to figure to themselves the “great assize,” sometimes made strange work, and shown how carnal their thoughts are, both in what they expected, and in the influence they allowed it to have over them.  But what of all this?  Correct these gross ideas, but leave the words of Scripture in their literal meaning, and do not say that all those who receive them as the announcement of what is to be, under conditions now inconceivable to man, must understand “the substitution of a mere external trial or examination” for the inward and daily trial of our hearts, as a mere display of “earthly pomp and ceremonial”—­a resumption by Christ “of earthly conditions”; or that, because they believe that at “some distant unknown period they shall be brought into the presence of One who is now” not “far from them,” but out of sight—­how, or in what manner they know not—­therefore they must suppose that He “is not now fulfilling the office of a Judge, whatever else may be committed to Him.”

Mr. Maurice is aiming at a high object.  He would reconcile the old and the new.  He would disencumber what is popular of what is vulgar, confused, sectarian, and preserve and illustrate it by disencumbering it.  He calls on us not to be afraid of the depths and heights, the freedom and largeness, the “spirit and the truth,” of our own theology.  It is a warning and a call which every age wants.  We sympathise with his aim, with much of his positive teaching, with some of his aversions and some of his fears.  We do not respect him the less for not being afraid of being called hard names.  But certainly such a writer has need, in no common degree, of conforming himself to that wise maxim, which holds in writing as well as in art—­“Know what you want to do, then do it.”

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FREDERICK DENISON MAURICE[22]

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Occasional Papers from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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