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Cambridge :



volume owes its inception to a small body of Cam-
JL bridge graduates who are associated for the study of
Christian Doctrine. It seemed to them that the time had
come when an effort ought to be made on the part of those
who are entrusted with the theological teaching of Cambridge
to deal in a series of Essays with some of the religious prob-
lems which are now attracting the attention of educated
Englishmen. With the view of making the book fairly
representative of Cambridge theology, the Association has
sought the help of several well-known resident teachers who
do not belong to its own ranks, and of a few non-residents who
are still in touch with the life and thought of the University.

Two changes only have been made in the original list of
contributors : one writer withdrew through the pressure of
other work ; the task of a second, the late Forbes Robinson,
Fellow of Christ's College, a colleague whose early removal
from us is deeply deplored, fell upon his brother, who in the
midst of many duties consented to fill the vacant place.

No desire has been felt to limit the representation to any
particular school or schools of theological opinion, and it
will be found to include men who differ widely on questions
where it is possible to disagree without disloyalty to the
common Faith. Each writer is to be held responsible solely
for what he has written ; although the Essays have been
circulated in proof, there has been no formal consultation or
cooperation among the Essayists, and the Editor has generally
refrained from suggesting material changes, and has made no
such change without the consent of the Essayist concerned ;
even in the details of orthography and punctuation no
attempt has been made to secure absolute uniformity. In-
dependence carries with it certain obvious disadvantages,
and the reader will doubtless observe here and there in this
book something like a conflict of opinion ; there may be some
overlapping and occasional repetitions, and a general lack of


vi Preface

the homogeneity which, when many writers are at work upon
the same ground, can be gained only by repeated conference
or by the repression of personal methods and convictions.
But on the whole it has seemed better to accept these risks
than to interfere with the free play of individual preferences.
Such unity as this collection of Essays may possess must be
sought in its general purpose.

In the selection of the subjects the Committee to whom the
details were entrusted have been guided by a desire to give
prominence to those which seemed to be of vital importance
in themselves or under present circumstances. But they
had also in view to provide an orderly treatment of the chief
landmarks in the theistic and Christian positions. A brief
sketch of the contents of the volume will show how they have
endeavoured to fulfil their purpose. Beginning with a general
view of the Christian standpoint, the book proceeds to show
that theistic belief is not inconsistent with a loyal acceptance
of the assured results of either physical or philosophical
research. It then examines the position of Man, both as a
part of Nature, and as standing in relation to God and
conscious of sin; the possibility of communication between
God and Man, and the means by which it is effected. The
next step is to deal with certain problems which meet the
student on the threshold of the Christian Revelation : the
credibility of miracles, the permanence of the Old Testament,
and the historical character of the Four Gospels. Some essential
features of Christianity are then considered : the Person of
Christ as seen in the Gospels, and the Work and Influence
of Christ in History ; and in the last two Essays the series is
completed by a discussion of the ethical value of Christian
doctrines, and the power of the Christian Ideal and the hope
of the life to come.

From this summary it will appear that these Essays to
some extent constitute an apologia pro fide nostra. To such
an interpretation of our effort there can be no objection if the
work of the apologist and our own relations to it are rightly un-
derstood. To be eroi/jLoi 7T/9o<? airoXoyiav, ready to answer the
challenge of non-Christians, is a necessary part of the equip-
ment of believers, and especially of the professed teachers of
Christian Theology. From the first half of the second
century onwards the Church has occupied herself from
time to time in producing an apologetic literature, which, if
not always worthy of its high aims and now partly obsolete,
has upon the whole served a useful purpose. Our own time,
with its wide outlook upon Nature, and searching enquiries
into the origins of institutions, needs a new apologetic ;

Preface vii

neither the efforts of Justin and Clement to correlate
Christianity with the best thoughts of Greek philosophy, nor
the sarcastic dialectic of Tertullian, nor Origen's brilliant reply
to Celsus, nor the often acute answers of Macarius Magnes to
the moribund yet militant paganism of the fourth century,
nor the refutation of seventeenth and eighteenth century
unbelief by English writers such as Cudworth, Butler, and
Paley, can adequately meet the wants of the present age,
when the case against faith is stated by a new learning
of which our fathers never dreamt. We shall rejoice if this
book is found worthy to suggest lines of thought to the future
apologist, and we are not without hope that it may be
thus used by him. For these Essays are the work of men
who have lived for years, in some cases for the best part
of a lifetime, in the atmosphere of an English University, and
who therefore cannot be either unconscious or regardless of the
problems which modern knowledge presents to theologians.
It is one of the chief advantages of our academical system
that the student of Theology meets, in the frank intercourse of
a common life, with the student of History and Literature on
the one hand and the student of Nature on the other. In
Cambridge no sharp line of demarcation separates sacred from
secular learning ; Theology gladly descends into the arena of
the 'studies,' and learns to regard all knowledge as sacred
and all truth as of God. For theologians who have lived in
such surroundings it is impossible to ignore objections raised by
other branches of knowledge, and no less impossible to offer
answers which have not first satisfied their own intellectual
needs. It is because this volume of Essays has been written
by men who have in every case passed through such training
that it may be expected to render some real assistance to the
Christian apologist.

But while we hope that our book may not be destitute of
apologetic value, we have not followed the methods of the
formal apology, nor has the defence of the Faith been our
primary aim. Our purpose is rather to bring certain questions
connected with Christian belief into the light of modern know-
ledge, and to register the results of this process, whatever
they may be. A special responsibility attaches to those who
are called to study and teach theology under the shadow of a
great University. The Master of all Christians has promised
to send to His Church both Prophets and Scribes : the men of
vigorous action and glowing speech, who can teach afresh to
their own generation the great lessons of Truth and Righte-
ousness, and by clearness of vision forecast the work of the
near future; and the men of the cloister and the study, whose

viii Preface

business it is to reexamine the sacred writings and to restate
and hand on, enriched but essentially unchanged, the tra-
dition which the Church received from the first generation
of disciples. In England the Christian Scribe has ever found
his chief home in our old Universities, and it is of good
omen that the younger Universities have shown a disposition
to welcome him among their teachers ; it would indeed be an
evil day both for learning and for religion if this happy
concordat were abandoned and the theologian were led to
seek shelter in an atmosphere wholly theological. For the
present in any case it is to the Universities that the Church
may rightly look for the " things new and old " which it is her
business to bring forth out of the treasury of the Kingdom.

There is room in Theology for the new as well as for the
old, and each age, as it passes, must contribute to the store
and not merely preserve and pass it on. In Cambridge there
is little danger of forgetting or undervaluing the great leaders
of the last generation ; their memories are yet green, and
their work will always remain with us, a storehouse from
which we thankfully borrow inspiration and knowledge. But
since Lightfoot overthrew the historical position of the author
of Supernatural Religion, the battlefield has shifted in part,
and the forces of our opponents have been recruited from
fresh quarters ; the criticisms which are still good as against
that unfortunate venture have little bearing upon some of our
present controversies with unbelief. Nor do all the historical
and textual results which seemed so secure twenty years ago
now command universal assent. The times have moved on,
bringing new workers, new facts, new ideas, glimpses even of
whole fields of thought unknown to us then ; and room must
be found for these in our theology as well as in other depart-
ments of study. It is no disloyalty to the past to endeavour
to keep pace with the present, or to prepare for a future
which is already coming into sight. Theologians above other
men are tempted to regard what is novel as suspect or even
self-condemned ; does not the Queen of Sciences teach eternal
and unchangeable truth ? was not the Faith, it will be asked,
once for all delivered to the saintst But those who urge this
plea forget that there is another point of view which is not to
be overlooked. If there are things new as well as things old
in the store of the spiritual householder, it is his duty to give
prominence to each of these aspects of Truth in its own place.
The New Covenant, no longer new in point of time, possesses
what the Old Covenant lacked, an inherent power of present-
ing itself in fresh lights, and of developing points of contact
with the latest revelations of human knowledge. The Logos,

Preface ix

as an early Christian writer has finely said, though He was of
old, even from the beginning, manifested Himself anew at the
Incarnation, and is evermore being born into a fresh, young
life in the hearts of the saints ; through her progressive
realization of the Christ, the Church is enabled continually to
renew the vitality of her early days, whilst there are epochs
in her long history when the Eternal Truth appears with the
startling freshness of a great spiritual discovery. Such an epoch,
answering to an age of rapid progress in other branches of
knowledge, may be dawning upon us now, and it is not for us to
follow the example of the Scribes of our Lord's time by over-
looking or misreading the signs of the time. The disciples of the
Word dare not turn away from any of the teachings of God in
Nature or in History because they may be thought to involve
a reconstruction of some of their cherished beliefs.

Reconstruction, however, is a serious matter, when vital
truths are concerned ; and in Theology it calls for the utmost
care. There is grave risk lest some pearl of great price should
be lost or marred in the resetting of the chain. Although new
combinations are permissible, the original deposit must remain
without diminution, without addition: nove, non nova must
be the motto of the worker in this field. It is easy to state
this principle, but the task of giving effect to it is one of
the greatest delicacy and difficulty. How necessary it is that
this should be reserved for the handling of trained students
is borne in upon us by the crude pronouncements which from
time to time proceed from opposite camps, and disturb the
peace of the Church and the faith of not a few.

That these Essays will have succeeded in adjusting the
rival claims of ' old ' and ' new ' is more than we hope, more
indeed than can be attained at the present moment. A
generation or two may barely suffice to solve outstanding
problems, and as soon as they have been solved the process
will begin again, through the discovery of new facts or the
penetration of society by new ideas. Meanwhile in this book
the reader may see the work in progress at a stage where
it is still tentative and the results are therefore of uncertain
value. He will bear in mind that to expect finality in such
investigations is to court disappointment ; it is only through
alternations of failure and success, and a persistence in effort
which defies discouragements, that the end can at last be
reached. Nor will he look for uniform excellence in a field
where many labourers are engaged upon soil of varying
character. Some of the subjects are in themselves more
attractive than others, or may be thought to have received
more sympathetic treatment ; for into the interpretation of

x Preface

truth the personal equation must ever enter largely, especi-
ally in a volume of this kind. The purpose of the book will
have been gained if, taken as a whole, it is judged to have set
forward what is perhaps the most important work that lies
before the theology of the twentieth century ; if it has
helped to assimilate the new views of truth suggested by
modern knowledge, without sacrificing any part of the primi-
tive message, and to state in terms adapted to the needs of a
new century the truths which the ancient Church expressed
in those which were appropriate to its own times.

The partial Hellenizing and Latinizing of Christian thought
and terminology, which began soon after the end of the Apos-
tolic age, may not have been without danger to the Faith, but
few will now doubt that valuable results have followed. If we
owe to these processes certain accretions which do not harmo-
nize with primitive simplicity, on the other hand they enriched
the Christian Society with much that appealed to the thought
and imagination of the centuries through which it had to pass ;
nor would any thoughtful believer at the present day willingly
abandon the best heirlooms that the Church has received from
the Greek East or the Latin West. It would be faithless to
doubt that the modernizing of Theology, which seems to have
begun, will upon the whole be equally productive of good.
Something of the rich beauty of the ancient presentment of
the Faith may be lost in the process, and the period of
transition must necessarily be one of unrest and discomfort.
But it needs no prophet to foresee that the time will come
when ideas which to-day are strange and unwelcome will be
seen to possess a beauty of their own, to be necessary to
the completeness of truth, and to belong, no less than many
which are long familiar, to the common treasury of the
Kingdom of Heaven.



20 September, 1905.



1. The Christian Standpoint ..... i

WILLIAM CUNNINGHAM, D.D., Fellow of Trinity
College, Honorary Fellow of Gonville and Caius College,
Hulsean Lecturer (1885), Honorary Canon of Ely ; Fellow of
the British Academy ; Vicar of Great St Mary's, Cambridge.

2. The Being of GOD, in the light of Physical

Science ....... 55

lain and Student in Philosophy, Gonville and Caius College,
Hulsean Lecturer (1901) ; Rector of Hockwold, Norfolk.

3. The Being of GOD, in the light of Philosophy . 101

ALFRED CALDECOTT, D.D., late Fellow and Dean
of St John's College, Professor of Moral and Mental Philo-
sophy in King's College, London ; Rector of Frating,

4. Man's Origin, and his place in Nature . . U7

M.A., M.D., Fellow of Jesus College, University Lecturer
in Physical Anthropology.

5. Sin, and the Need of Atonement . . . -175

of Trinity College.

xii Subjects and Contributors


6. The Idea of Revelation, in the light of Modern

Knowledge and Research . . .219

JAMES MAURICE WILSON, D.D., sometime Fellow
of St John's College and Head Master of Clifton College,
late Vicar of Rochdale and Archdeacon of Manchester,
Hulsean Lecturer (1898) ; Canon of Worcester.

7. Prayer, in relation to the idea of Law . . 263

Vicar of All Hallows Barking by the Tower.

8. The spiritual and historical evidence for Miracles. 307

Fellow and Dean of Emmanuel College, Warden of St
Augustine's College, Canterbury.

9. The Permanent Value of the Old Testament . 341

WILLIAM EMERY BARNES, D.D., Fellow of Peter-
house, Hulsean Professor of Divinity.

10. The Gospels, in the light of historical criticism . 371

Queens' College, Honorary Fellow of Christ's College, and
Norrisian Professor of Divinity, Hulsean Lecturer (1900) ;
Bishop-Elect of Ely.

11. Christ in the New Testament: the primitive

portrait ....... 421

ARTHUR JAMES MASON, D.D., Master of Pem-
broke College, sometime Fellow of Trinity College, late
Lady Margaret Professor of Divinity and Fellow of Jesus
College, Hulsean Lecturer (1899) ; Canon of Canterbury.

Subjects and Contributors xiii


12. Christ in the Church : the testimony of History . 469

Fellow, Dean, and Assistant Tutor of Jesus College,
Hulsean Lecturer (1902); Honorary Canon of Peterborough.

13. Christian doctrines and their ethical signi-

ficance ....... 527

Fellow and Dean of Pembroke College.

14. The Christian Ideal and the Christian Hope . 573

Trinity College, sometime Head Master of Harrow School ;
late Dean of Gloucester.

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C. T. E.


The Want of a Common Understanding.


1. Narrow Limits of Difference in the Study of Physical


2. Incompatibilities of Moral Judgements.

3. Uncertainty of Religious Principles.


1. Materialism.

2. Pantheism.

3. Agnosticism.


1. Rationalism in Theology.

2. Analytical Enquiries as to the Essence of Religion.

3. The protest of Religious Conviction.


1. Reflection on the Contradictions in Human Nature.

2. The Sense of Sin.


1. Conscious Reconciliation with God.

2. Harmony with other Wills.

3. Christian Life.

4. The Life of Christ.


1. Apprehension and Appreciation.

2. The Spiritual Truth in the Scriptures.

3. The Growth of Mankind in the Knowledge of God.


1. Self -repression.

2. Theistic Morality.

3. Distinctively Christian Virtues.


ORDINARY table talk, on every-day topics, brings out the
curious differences that are to be found among human beings.
It offers a field where bright intelligence comes to the front, by
acuteness of perception, by alertness in contributing to the
common thought of the company, and by adroitness in turning
the stream into fresh channels when there is danger that it
will stagnate. Keenness of intellect and geniality of manner
show on the surface, and give a charm to talk, upon whatever
subject it may turn ; but other personal qualities may
obstruct rather than illuminate the flow of conversation.
Intimate friends have so much in common that they can
speak freely, without fear of giving offence ; while those
who find themselves in an uncongenial atmosphere feel the
duty of exercising some conscious self-repression. The Tory
and the Radical have habituated themselves to look at political
affairs from different points of view ; each interprets the
events of the day from his own standpoint, and each finds in
them a confirmation of the opinions he has always held.
Fruitful discussion of affairs of state between two thorough-
going partisans is almost impossible ; they abhor each other's
principles, and deny each other's facts. There is no common
ground between them, and unconvincing argument is only
too apt to degenerate into mere wrangling. Nor is it only
with respect to political matters that a man feels it prudent
to be careful what he says among strangers. In regard to
many topics of art, or of religion, one person speaks and thinks
on such a wholly different plane from that which others
occupy, that honest attempts to comprehend the opinion that
is expressed are foiled : they only lead to mystification. The


4 Cambridge Theological Essays [i

human mind recoils from the merely incomprehensible, and
is not always patient enough to be at pains to try to reach
the platform of those who seem to be oddities. Not a
little education is needed to enable a man to interchange
thought on all possible subjects of human interest, with many
sorts and conditions of men. There must be some kind of
common understanding, or intelligent discussion is impossible ;
no advance can be made towards agreement unless one at
least of the disputants is prepared to try to comprehend the
other's point of view.


1. There are of course subjects of discussion in regard to
which it is rarely necessary to take much account of different
points of view ; for practical purposes we are all on the same
standpoint, when we are considering the objects of sense-
perception in their relations to each other. The questions as
to the ultimate analysis of physical phenomena, or as to their
precise relations with the human mind, raise problems that
many of us are ready to leave on one side ; since we do not
see that they have any utilitarian bearing. Those who are
content to try to understand Nature, in order that they may
make the most of her and control her resources for human
purposes, feel that there is no need to justify their position.
They are looking at the world steadily and systematically, as
all civilised men take it unconsciously in every act of daily
life. To find an exception, we must go to the fetichism of
primitive man, which reduces nature to a chaos of capricious
influences ; this is a different standpoint, wholly at variance
with our own ; but we can trace the steps by which, with
advancing knowledge, men have discarded it, and may thus
find additional reason for preferring our own point of
view. The conception of the physical world, as an orderly
whole, gives us a sufficient basis for common action ; those
who are merely doing the business of life, and those who are
pursuing investigations, find common ground from which to
survey the knowledge acquired in the past, and to coordinate
their new impressions. Differences of course there are, due

i] The Christian Standpoint 5

to the idiosyncrasies of particular individuals ; the senses do
not agree in the accuracy or character of their reports 1 ;
colour blindness vitiates some observations, and mere care-
lessness makes others worthless. But it may often be possible
to account, or at any rate to allow for such divergences ;
there is, on the whole, one standard, in the body of knowledge
about physical phenomena, to which appeal can be made,
since it is a tribunal that all are ready to accept. Nor is it
merely that there is a common conception in which all agree,
a dream that all dream at once ; they recognise that the
system of nature is real, because of the limitations it places
on the operation of human wills ; and they feel that their

Online LibraryHenry Barclay SweteEssays on some theological questions of the day → online text (page 1 of 52)