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applies to the awards of the final judgment: "it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment, than for thee." 1 Now the common doctrine of eternal punishment admits, as we have seen, of degrees innumerable. Though all will be punished without end, the misery of one may be twice as great as that of another. But if the doom of all the wicked is annihilation, and this is that s "everlasting punishment" spoken of by our Lord, where are the degrees of suffering in non-existence? Beyond doubt it is the vengeance which Christ takes at the day of judgment on them that know not God, that shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom than for Capernaum. But this vengeance is expressly denned to be "everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord." If now annihilation be what is meant, how can that be more tolerable for Sodom than Capernaum? But if it be the suffering that precedes annihilation, then we have "everlasting destruction," which is the vengeance which Christ takes on the wicked, before it begins. How much better to abide by the plain meaning of Scripture, than thus to involve ourselves and God's word in endless contradictions!
CONGREGATIONALISM AND SYMBOLISM"
BY PROF. WILLIAM G. T. SHKDD, ANDOYEB.
The constitution of the Congregational Library Association proclaims that it is the object of this society, to establish a material centre for the denomination, about which it
1 Matt. II: 24.
s An Address delivered before the Congregational Library Association, Boston, May 25th, 1858.
shall collect its scattered elements, and from which it shall radiate its forces. It is its design, in the language of its statutes, " to found and perpetuate a library of books, pamphlets, and manuscripts, and a collection of portraits," and to lay up in its archives " whatever else shall serve to illustrate Puritan history, and promote the general interests of Congregationalism." "It shall also be an object of the Association," says the constitution, " to secure the erection of a suitable building for its library, its meetings, and the general purposes of the body." Interpreting these articles and statutes in a broad and enterprising spirit, we find in them a desire to combine and unify the somewhat diffused characteristics of the Congregational denomination, by furnishing it a visible centre. This species of centre, and this sort of consolidation, though not of the highest order, though external in its instrumentalities, and external in many of its results, is nevertheless of great importance in the history of any organization. The influence of the national temple, the common visible home and resort of all the tribes, upon the Jewish church and state, is well known; and no external event, perhaps no event, contributed more to the downfall of the Old economy, and the Jewish cultus, and thereby to the progress and triumph of the new dispensation with its simpler and more spiritual worship, than did the siege of Jerusalem, and the destruction of the old ancestral temple. That building of the pagan temples which began in Greece, immediately after the Persian war was brought to a glorious close, did more than even that war itself, to bring the various Grecian tribes into something akin to unity; and that socalled Sacred War which was signalized by the robbing of Delphi, and the scattering of its treasures, was at once the cause and the effect of the decline and destruction of Grecian patriotism, and Grecian unity. Mediaeval Catholicism embodied its ideas, and centralized its forces, in the great Gothic cathedrals. That outburst of architecture in the thirteenth century, when Rheims, and Rouen, Paris, and Cologne, shot up their spires, and threw out their flying buttresses, with a suddenness and energy that looks like
magic,'—that majestic series of material centres for the Papal church did much to strengthen it in its corruption, and to postpone the Reformation.
The power and influence, then, of a centripetal point, even though it relate to externals, is not to be despised. It is indeed true that neither the library, nor the musaeum, neither the collection, nor the edifice in which the collection is garnered up, can be a substitute for the living spirit of learning in the mind of the individual scholar; and neither can the temple, nor the cathedral, nor any of the mechanism of an ecclesiastical denomination, be regarded of equal importance with the animating principle of piety in the hearts of church members. And yet neither science nor religion, neither the state nor the church, can wholly neglect these outward instruments of organization and union, without somewhat spattering their elements of power, and wasting their force.
Are we not then summoned by this " Library Association" to consider the need of more centripetal force in Congregationalism, in order to its greater efficiency as an ecclesiastical denomination? The Congregational edifice, the library, and the portrait-gallery, imply that we require an ecclesiastical home, and are emblematic of the truth that the denomination needs to control its tendencies to vagueness, and diffusion, and to render its distinguishing characteristics more intense by concentration. But this cannot be done by merely erecting a building, or collecting a library and portraits. These are but the secondary, though, as we have remarked, the necessary instrumentalities. Our unity, and our consolidation, as one of the legitimate churches of Christ in the world, must ultimately proceed from a deeper
1 "The 13th century as a building epoch is perhaps the most brilliant in the whole history of architecture. Not even the great I'harnonic era in Egypt, the age of Pericles in Greece, nor the great period of the Roman Empire, will bear comparison with the 13th century in Europe, whether we look at the extent of the buildings executed, their wonderful variety and constructive elegance, the daring imagination that conceived them, or the power of poetry and of lofty religious fueling that is expressed in every feature and every part of them." — Fergusson's Handbook of Architecture, Part II. Book III. c. 9.
and stronger force than anything visible and material. We have not been born of flesh and blood. We have been begotten of the will of God, with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of first fruits of his creatures. Our true growth, and our true strength, must lie in the line of our origin and birth. The ultimate organizing and centralizing influence, therefore, upon which we must place our main reliance as a religious denomination, is the doctrine, the truth, of God. This is one and homogeneous, and consequently unifies and harmonizes all that comes under its fair and full influence. But this supposes that eye sees to eye; and that there is a common doctrinal faith, and a common doctrinal creed, for the denomination.
Let us then, Brethren and Fathers, consider for a few moments, the necessity that exists in Congregationalism for a stronger symbolical feeling, and a bolder confidence in creedstatements, in order to its highest efficiency as a Christian denomination.
Before proceeding to the discussion of this theme, we will cast a swift glance at the ancestral feeling and tendency on this subject. What was the attitude of the fathers and founders of Congregationalism towards the old historical theology that had preceded them, and particularly towards the Symbolism that was then in existence? The answer to this question will require us to notice, very briefly, the theological position of the leading minds in the formative periods of Congregationalism, and the particular public action of the denomination itself.
It is a fact which will not be disputed, that the master spirits among the English Independents of the Cromwellian period were earnest and strong defenders, not merely of the doctrines of the Reformation, but of that particular shaping of them which is found in the creeds of the Calvinistic division of the Protestants. The English church previous to the days of Laud, it is well known, sympathized heartily with the theologians of Zurich and Geneva, and when that large and learned body of divines whose consciences compelled them to dissent from the increasing ecclesiasticism of the state establishment came out from it, they brought with them the very same dogmatic system which had been embodied in the 42 articles of Edward sixth, had been compressed into the 39 articles of Elizabeth, and had been maintained by prelates like Whitgift, and Cranmer, and Usher, as the faith once delivered to the saints. As a natural consequence, the non-conforming theologians in England, however much they differed from one another, and from the old national church, upon secondary subjects, were characterized by an earnest and intelligent zeal for the Old English, which was the Old Calvinistic, faith and creed.
The Independents were not second to any in this feeling. Thomas Goodwin and John Owen, says Anthony Wood, "were the two Atlases and Patriarchs of Independency."1 These two minds are the true representatives of the English Congregationalism of the 17th century, and they did more than any others to determine its type and character, both in doctrine and practice. Their theological position is as well known as that of Calvin himself. These minds were, also, of that exact and scientific order which requires for its own satisfaction the most unambiguous and self-consistent statement of religious truth. The treatises of the individual divine are, commonly, not so carefully worded as the articles of the council of divines; from the same cause that the best reasoned political disquisitions are not so precise in their statements as the technical phraseology of the political convention, or the political treaty. Yet even the practical treatises of Owen and Goodwin bear a much stronger resemblance than is common, or commonly practicable, in flowing discourse, to the concise and guarded enunciations of the council. The very structure of their sermons, and the very style of their discourses, evinces that these leading Independents were of their own free-will, and with their own clear eye, following on in that strait and narrow way of dogma which is the intellectual parallel to the strait and narrow way of life.
The Independents of England in the Cromwellian period
1 Neale, II. 291.