W. H. (William Henry) Fremantle.

The world as the subject of redemption; being an attempt to set forth the functions of the church as designed to embrace the whole race of mankind. Eight lectures delivered before the University of Oxford in the year 1883 on the foundation of the late Rev. John Bampton online

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Online LibraryW. H. (William Henry) FremantleThe world as the subject of redemption; being an attempt to set forth the functions of the church as designed to embrace the whole race of mankind. Eight lectures delivered before the University of Oxford in the year 1883 on the foundation of the late Rev. John Bampton → online text (page 6 of 35)
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And such a development and modification of the Chris-
tian system, as we are contemplating, is quite in accord-
ance with the teaching of a ' diversity of gifts with the
same spirits' We shall ultimately have the one great
ideal, that of the life of Christ, and one spirit, the spirit
of Christ. But there will still be room for a Judaic
and a Gentile Christianity, an artistic or a scientific
Christianity, a Western Christianity, and one strongly

' See Note XIII, where a passage from Sir H. Maine's Ancient Law
on the influence of Roman Law on the theology of the Western Church
is quoted.

^ See the teaching of St. Paul in i Cor. xii. and Eph. iv. on this sub-
ject, which admit of a much wider application than is commonly given

I.] The World as a Whole. 37

coloured (much more strongly perhaps than we can at
present conceive possible) by Oriental ideas ; for Pales-
tine is Oriental rather than European, and Christ belongs
to the East at least as much as to the West '. To sup-
pose that Christianity, as it at present exists among us,
is to supersede all other systems or ideals would be to
narrow fatally the life of mankind. But to believe that
the central moral and spiritual principles which spring
from the life of Christ, those which make us conceive
of the supreme power as fatherly love and righteous-
ness, and of man's true life as a communion with that
righteous and loving power — to believe, I say, that these
principles must eventually be recognized as supreme,
is not only reasonable but seems to be demanded by

But these principles can never assert their supremacy
merely as a philosophy. They must take form in human
institutions. Christianity is not a mere spirit, a spirit
unclothed, but it enters into the institutions of mankind
and moulds or reforms them for its own purposes, and
thus changes human society into the Church and body of
Christ. And, since the progress of mankind is towards
unity of organization (while allowing room for local
differences), the result to which we look must be not
only a universal Christianity but a universal Christian
Church. The two factors, that of human organization
growing to completeness, and that of the Christian spirit
longing for an adequate body, thus find their meeting-
place. That meeting-place must be a supreme Christian
federation (a federation, the feeble beginnings of which
we already see), with which all nations and minor
societies will work in harmony. Thus we are brought
round once more to the hope of a universal Church,
which is synonymous with the human race organized in

' See Note XIV. An extract from a Lecture by the late Baboo
Keshub Chunder Sen entitled 'Jesus Christ, Europe and Asia.'

38 Universal Redemption. [lect.

accordance with the Christian principle, and becoming,
in all the relations of its component members, the home
and organ of the Spirit of God.

The Church thus appears as the world transfigured
by the Christian spirit of love. It will be the object of
these Lectures to verify and impress this idea by show-
ing how its realization has been aimed at in the religious
development of mankind. It will not be attempted to
do this by any exhaustive account of the religions of the
world or of universal history, which would give these
Lectures too great an expansion. If we believe that the
Hebraic and Christian line of religious development is
central and the others subsidiary, we may be content to
keep to the main stream : for in this the kingdom of
God, which has been unconsciously sought by other
systems, has been the object of conscious aim and
practical effort.

The second Lecture, accordingly, will treat exclusively
of Judaism. It will be pointed out that Judaism was
not a religion merely but a polity, its aim being the
establishment of righteousness in the relations of men
within the commonwealth ; that the political and moral
laws and the national organization form its central point,
its kings and judges being in the fullest sense ministers
of God. It will be shown also that this, rather than
what is strictly called religious doctrine, formed the main
subject of the Hebrew writings, and that the prophets
were practical teachers and statesmen, urging continu-
ally upon the people and their rulers those just and
loving relations in which the kingdom of God consists.

In the third Lecture the same purpose will be traced
in the teaching of our Lord and His Apostles, and the
founding of the Christian Church. It will be shown that
this teaching was not meant to result in the formation of
a separate society for the purposes of religious worship,
instruction and beneficence, but in a world-wide society

I-] The World as a Whole.


capable of embracing and transforming all other socie-
ties ; and that, while it presents a deeper and fuller
righteousness than Judaism, it still aims, like Judaism, at
the righteousness of the nation as well as the individual,
and, going beyond Judaism, at the blending of all nations
into one grand organized brotherhood.

The fourth, fifth, and sixth Lectures will show how
attempts have been made at three different epochs for
the realization of this great organized brotherhood or
universal Church ; namely, first, in the conversion of
the Roman Empire ; secondly, in the mediaeval system
from Charlemagne to Innocent III ; thirdly, at the era
of the Reformation. Of these, the fourth Lecture will
describe the Imperial and Mediaeval efforts ; the fifth,
those of the Reformation and its adjacent periods, in-
cluding the work of Savonarola at Florence, of Calvin
at Geneva, and of the Jesuits in the revival of Catho-
licism, the system of Wolfgang and Erastus, and the at-
tempts of Knox in Scotland, and of the Puritan colonists
in America to found Christian communities. The sixth
will show the same attempts made in a different form
in England at the Reformation, with its results in our
subsequent history.

The seventh Lecture will proceed on a different
method. It will be an attempt to present the idea of
a Christianized society, taking the various associations
into which men naturally enter, and showing how each
of these demands for its full development the spirit of
Christ, and when thus developed becomes a branch of
the Church universal.

The last Lecture will take a review of the present con-
dition of mankind, in view of the hope of such a develop-
ment, and will attempt to show by what changes each of
the circles or associations into which society is divided
may become branches of the Church, and society itself
be changed into the kingdom of God.

40 Universal Redemption. [lect. i.

I ask not merely for a candid hearing but for earnest
and prayerful co-operation of thought. What is to be
said in these Lectures is not a mere theory. It is an
attempt also at practical guidance. In all investigations
theory, and even hypothesis, are necessary ' ; for we
must present a general statement of the facts and show
the bond which connects them ; but it must also be such
as will shed a light on the pathway which we have to
tread. It must do more in an investigation like the
present ; for Christianity is essentially progressive, and
no theory or general statement of its purposes can be
valid which does not teach us to look steadily into the
future with burning and enthusiastic hope. It may
safely be said that no such theory has as yet appeared as
to the facts of Christian history, and consequently the
Churches are to a certain extent working in the dark.
But if by attending to the intimations of Scripture and
reviewing God's dealings in the past, we can evolve a
theory which adequately explains the facts, it will also
serve as a means of quickening our hopes and our ener-
gies ; and we may see Christians once more, with the
primitive fearlessness and confidence, advancing to the
spiritual conquest of the world.

' See Note XV. J. S. Mill on the use of hypothesis in scientific in-



Psalm cxxii. 3-9. Jerusalem is builded as a city that is compact to-
gether: whither the tribes go up, the tribes of the Lord, unto the
testimony of Israel, to give thanks unto the name of the Lord.
For there are set thrones of judgment, the thrones of the house of
David. Pray for the peace of Jerusalem : they shall prosper that
love thee. Peace be within thy walls, and prosperity within thy
palaces. For my brethren and companions' sakes, I will how say,
Peace be within thee. Because of the house of the Lord our God
I will seek thy good.

Religion consists in the relations of spiritual beings,
their establishment, their maintenance, their exercise.
Whether the word be derived from Religere, and signify
pondering, or from Religare, and signify a binding
together, the spiritual relation is that to which it neces-
sarily leads. In the barest form, as a meditation upon
God, or the world, or man, upon life or eternity, it con-
stitutes a relation between him who meditates and that
on which he meditates. But as the central unity before
which all separate interests must bow grows upon his
view, the demand for the establishment of relations
between him and the organized and centred universe
grows stronger and clearer. When he comes to know
the central unity as the Father, as Love, then the relation
between him and that unity becomes personal, spiritual.
And this extends to all parts of the world, and especially
to the relations of men to one another. They are all
ultimately held fast by love.

42 The Hebrew Theocracy. [lect.

Human history is necessarily the history of religion,
because it is the history of human relations. The fault
of history, as it has commonly been written, is, that it
has dwelt too much on events, too little on human rela-
tions. Great events may pass and leave human relations
much as they were. In any case, the human relations
which cause or are caused by the event are of more im-
portance than the event itself'. The more modern his-
torians attempt to show us the real life of the people. It
is a difficult task ; but the man who has a genuine his-
torical faculty will be exercised in it continually. We ask
not merely. What happened .? But, Why did it happen .?
And, What did the actors think or feel ? And, What were
the moral and social results .? We are often tempted to
cry in despair in the course of historical study. Who will
lift the veil of mere events .-' Who will disclose to us the
growth of spiritual principles .?

In the preliminary Lecture of this course it was main-
tained that the destination towards which the Christian
Church should direct its hopes and its efforts is an all-
embracing community held together in all its relations
by the Divine justice and love. The present Lecture
will point out that just such a community, though in a
limited and rudimentary form, is that which is presented
in the Old Testament, as designed by the great teachers
of Israel, and partly realized in its history.

If we regard the Hebrew history as a revelation, that
is, a disclosure of spiritual truth, it is because in it the
spiritual principles are made distinctly to appear; and
because the spiritual principles assumed or aimed at are
true or growing towards truth. But the method of this
revelation is not primarily by abstract statements, but
through the life of the nation. It is not a system of the-
ology, but religion realized in a social state which dis-

' See the remarks on this subject in the Preface to Green's ' Short
History of the English People.'

II.] Training in National Righteousness. 43

closes the true principles of life and faith. Israel is not a
sect but a Church.

Where, then, are we to find the life of the people?
Chiefly in their laws. These form the centre round
which the history turns. It is through the constitution of
the Jewish state or Church, and the laws concerning just
relations between man and man, concerning the family,
concerning the righteous bearing of classes and indi-
viduals to one another, and concerning the administra-
tion of justice, that the central revelation is made. It is
true that law is apt to be regarded as a mechanical form
imposed upon men, and we contrast men's laws with
their life, or their sentiments, or their songs. But if we
regard law more philosophically in its close connexion
with life, we may distinguish between that which is
fictitious or merely imposed and that which is of genuine
growth, springing out of, or accepted by, the better
conscience of the people. We may also trace the spirit
of the law and its central idea'. The Jewish records
disclose a state in which the laws sprung directly from a
consciousness of God overruling and indwelling.

The law of Israel was eminently spontaneous in its
source. The attempts to show that it was derived from
any foreign source have failed. It expresses the higher
life of Israel alone. In no history do we see a clearer
illustration of the saying that a constitution must grow,
not be made. We may add that, just as in our own
nation it is difScult to define the constitution precisely,
and it has never been written down, but consists of a
mass of relations partly understood or assumed, partly

' Montesquieu, who first did this, describes the laws appropriate to
various social conditions, those of monarchy, or aristocracy, or republi-
canism. Though Montesquieu made the mistalce of treating mankind
as too plastic, and law too much as the formative principle in each case,
yet his merit in tracing the spirit or underlying principle of the laws of
each country cannot be contested.

44 '^he Hebrew Theocracy. [lect.

enshrined in actual laws, so it was with Israel. And,
as Englishmen look back to the great charter as the
seminal point from which their constitution was de-
veloped, so the Israelites looked back to Moses and
Mount Sinai '. We may by this consideration to some
extent allay the conflicts of criticism as to the exact
date of the various laws, and of the books in which they
are contained ^ The phases through which the consti-
tution seems to have passed are to some extent a
development, to some extent an adaptation to new
circumstances ; and the fact that at one time the worship
is diffused through the country while at another time it
is confined to the central sanctuary, or that at different
periods the magisterial, the prophetical, or the priestly
power becomes prominent, or again, that the sacrificial
office is first general, then Levitical, then strictly sacer-
dotal, only implies that the elements which were present
from the first grouped themselves at different epochs in
different ways. It does not follow from the fact that the
laws as we have them now were not all written down
at an early date, that they had no existence till they
took their present form : the students of ancient law
have shown us that law exists in the phase of instinct
or of custom long before it finds its expression in a
code '. And, further, the justice which the laws aim at
is never complete. This is the case in other countries,
but pre-eminently in Israel. The successive casts of the
law which critics trace out are successive attempts to
present and enforce the divine righteousness. But the
ideal is never attained. As the history is a prophecy
of a better state, so the laws are an effort to realize the
better state. Even the precepts which were given for

' In each case, however, there was a previous development, which
made the assertion of the law possible.

^ See Note XVI. An Excursus on the books of the Old Testament
as a basis for history. ^ See Note XVII on Customary Law.

II-] Training in National Righteousness. 45

the hardness of men's hearts were, as it were, a pleading
on behalf of a better feeling, of a righteousness to come.

The real convictions of a nation are best seen through
their poetry, for the poet expresses the deeper feelings
of those for whom he writes. What is it of which the
Hebrew poets sing .? The theme which is more than
any other upon their lips is the law of Jehovah '. What,
it is often asked, is this law which is sweeter to them
than honey ? When we read the Pentateuch, we are im-
pressed and perplexed by the bulk of the laws of cere-
monial and of peculiar customs. But it is not of these
that the Psalmists speak. In the Psalms there are a few
faint allusions to ceremonial customs, such as the laws
of drink-offerings of blood ^ or of forbidden food ^, or the
purging with hyssop + ; a few words about the new
moon and solemn feast-days s ; not a word about circum-
cision, not a word about the Passover, not a word about
the Sabbaths, not a word about ceremonial uncleanness.
There is, probably, in modern hymns, eighteen centuries
after Christ, more of artificial religion than in the Psalms
written in the bosom of Judaism. But, on the other
hand, almost every Psalm appeals to the law of plain
justice, public and private. There are denunciations of
those who break through the just relations established
by the law, who persecute the poor helpless man ^, who
oppress the fatherless and the widow ^ ; there are ideal
pictures of the just ruler ^, the just judged, the just king '°;

' See especially Ps. xix. and cxix.

" Ps. xvi. 4 : ' Their drink offerings of blood will I not offer.'

^ Ps. cxli. 4 : ' Let me not eat of their dainties.'

* Ps. li. 7. ' Ps. Ixxxi. 3. ^ Ps. cix. j6. ' Ps. xciv. 6.

^ Ps. ci. This Psalm presents a picture of one who endeavours to rule
his family, his court, and his kingdom according to the just law.

' Ps. ixxxii. 1-4: 'God . . . judgeth among the gods. . . . Defend
the poor and fatherless,' &c.

'° Ps. Ixxii. 1-7 : ' Give the king thy judgments, O God. ... He shall
judge thy people with righteousness.'

46 The Hebrew Theocracy. [lect.

a delight in the feasts as politico-religious gatherings ',
a pride in the capital as the centre of the national life ^ ;
a constant and thankful reference to the events of their
national history 3. It is the moral and political law, not
the ceremonial, which is enshrined in the hearts of the

There is no such spectacle in history as that presented
by this attachment to the law. The Eastern races bow
down under their laws, or, as in China, accept them as
an iron framework, or, as in the Buddhist system, leave
the whole political life aside. The Greek was taught
generally to reverence the Themistes and those who
administered them ; but, as to the laws of his own
state, the ideals he builds are usually the contrary of
the actual. Pericles describes in majestic language the
character of Athens ■• ; but Thucydides, who reports him,
constantly shows his distrust of the Athenian laws,
and is glad when the adverse fortune of war causes
them to be changed s. The Spartan's law was to him
a fate rather than a treasured possession. In general,
Greek politics exhibit a restless desire for change*, an
oscillation between aristocracy and democracy, and a
readiness to change the laws root and branch at the
will of the dominant party. The Romans said that
the good man was he who observed the decrees of
the fathers, the laws and ordinances ; but evidently
such good men kindled no enthusiasm. Even in our
own country, where the constitution deservedly inspires

' See especially Ps. cxxii. ; ' Our feet shall stand within thy gates, O
Jerusalem. . . . Whither the tribes go up,' &c.

^ Ps. xlviii. 12 : ' Walk about Zion, and go round about her,' &c. Ps.
cxxii. 6, 8, ' Pray for the peace of Jerusalem. . . . For my brethren and
companions' sakes, I will now say, Peace be within thee.'

^ Ps. xliv : ' We have heard with our ears, O God, our fathers have
told us.' Pss. Ixxviii, cv, cvi, &c.

* Thucyd. ii. 40-1. s Thucyd. viii. 97.

' See Aristotle's Politics, especially Book viii.

11-] Training in National Righteousness. 47

a warm affection and even a kind of worship, which
has been expressed in the eloquence of Burke and the
poems of Tennyson, yet no one has spoken of our laws
with the glowing delight with which the Psalmist spoke
of the laws of Israel. Nowhere else has it been felt that
the law presented a divine ideal which was within the
reach of a just ruler, and was at least partially realized
in the better days of the nation ; that it was like a tower
in which all, but especially the weak, could find their
refuge and their redemption ; that it was a direct re-
flexion of the eternal righteousness. And the good man
according to the law has the entire confidence of the
people ; he also is a worthy object of the Psalmist's
praise '. The reason is evident, namely this, that the
law was not merely prohibitory of certain crimes, but
that it presented, in a practical form, an ideal of right-
eousness, not the righteousness which merely gives
to each his due, but the divine righteousness, which
goes beyond itself, which is touched with the spirit of
sacrifice, which says, ' Thou shalt love thy neighbour as
thyself.' The Hebrew law was loveable because it
incessantly demanded care for the poor.

The paramount importance of the moral and political
laws seems to have escaped the notice of most of those
who have written on the Old Testament. Their minds
have been mainly occupied with the historical events,
or with the theology, or with the dates of the books ;
and the law has been examined with a view to the light
which it might shed on these points. Even in Ewald
its full examination is relegated to a separate work, the
Antiquities. It has yet to be set forth in connexion with
the history as the sure index of the life of the nation, as
the expression of their true relations and their religion.

Their land law was the basis of the system ; and this
rested distinctly on a religious sanction. The land was
' See especially Ps. xxxvii. and cxii.

48 The Hebrew Theocracy. [lect.

believed to have been measured out by Joshua by the
line and the lot, and a portion assigned to each family.
It was a sacred thing. 'The Lord forbid it me,' said
Naboth to Ahab, 'that I should give the inheritance of
my fathers unto thee '. ' There the family was to live
according to the righteous law, so that each separate
portion might be holy, and the whole might be a holy
land. 'A full reward be given thee,' said Boaz to Ruth^,
when she returned to claim her husband's inheritance,
' of the Lord God of Israel, under whose wings thou
art come to trust' The land could not be sold for
ever, because, so God is represented as saying, 'the
land is mine 3.' At the year of jubilee it returned to the
family. We see how this passed into a spiritual idea
when we find the Psalmist saying, of his whole estate
temporal and spiritual, 'The lines are fallen unto me
in pleasant places ; yea, I have a goodly heritage ; ' or
of God himself, ' The Lord is the portion of mine inheri-
tance ■».'

This religious value for the soil bred a wholesome
agricultural industry — in that day at least the most moral-
izing of all pursuits. The Israelites were not traders
like the Phoenicians — that would have brought them into
a contact with the heathen for which they were as yet
unfitted : nor freebooters and nomads, like the Ish-
maelites — that would have hindered all steady civiHza-
tion : nor manufacturers, like the Egyptians — that would
have demanded a more advanced state of social organi-
zation than they were prepared for : nor were they,
except for one brief epoch, organized for vast imperial
enterprises like the Babylonians ; these were impossible
in those ages, as the experience of Solomon seems to
show, without slave-gangs and oppression s. They were
to be a people of simple, peaceable, industrious agri-

' I Kings xxi. 3. "Ruthii. 12. ^ Lev. xxv. 23. * Ps. xvi. 5, &
' 2 Chron. ii. 17, 18.

11.] Training in National Righteousness. 49

culturists, not exciting the jealousy of their neighbours,
and having little intercourse with them. They had offi-
cers ' of tens and fifties, hundreds and thousands ; but
these, though they served also for war, were, according
to their traditional constitution, appointed primarily for
judgment and administration. They had towers in or
near their cities ^ for protection ; but we hear of no regu-
lar fortresses till the time of Solomon 3. The wants of
the people were few and were supplied by themselves.
There was much equality among the people, as is the
case where each family possesses a portion of the soil ;
and the few men who, like Nabal -t or Barzillais, mostly
by keeping flocks and herds, obtained exceptional
wealth, were not separated from their neighbours by any

Online LibraryW. H. (William Henry) FremantleThe world as the subject of redemption; being an attempt to set forth the functions of the church as designed to embrace the whole race of mankind. Eight lectures delivered before the University of Oxford in the year 1883 on the foundation of the late Rev. John Bampton → online text (page 6 of 35)