« PreviousContinue »
here, that we might never be invaded. You Englishmen must have dropped from the skies on the back of a hippopotamus."
Livingstone now energetically commenced his search after a high central table-land, suited for a mission-station,-Linyanti being marshy and malarious. After vainly seeking an eligible spot northward, in the Makololo country, he started westward, and, after numberless perils, reached Loanda, the Portuguese settlement, in the middle of 1854, where he remained a few months, and then returned, arriving again at Linyanti, in August, 1855. Two months later he once more departed, but this time in an easterly direction, speedily coming upon that African Niagara, the Victoria Falls, where the Zambesi, upwards of a mile wide, plunges its mighty mass into a narrow chasm of equal length, and finds its way by a zigzag channel to the plain beneath. In this journey he was at length successful in his main object of discovering a healthy mission-site, and then pursued his way to Quilimane on the East Coast, where he arrived in May, 1856, having been buried to Europe for four years.
Nothing can be more touching than the affectionate and trustful attachment with which his Makololo band had cleaved to him during this marvellous journey to and fro, across a tract of the continent exceeding two thousand miles in length. They waited for him at Tette, an inland Portuguese settlement, for two years and a half; and when he once more arrived from England, this time no longer in mission employ, but the accredited leader of a Government expedition, of which his brother Charles and Dr. Kirk were members, they rushed into the water to embrace him, and were restrained from doing so only by the fear of spoiling his new clothes! A similar marvellous personal influence bas attended him in all his wanderings amongst the African tribes, even when at war with one another; the English being recognized, wherever their fame had spread, by the glorious title of "the tribe that loves the black man.” After various voyages up the Shire, and the exploration of Lakes Shirwa and Nyassa, the most southerly of the wonderful series of fresh-water lakes, the discovery of which has revo. lationized our preconceptions of central African physical geography, Livingstone, in accordance with his promise, once more started for Lin. yanti, in May, 1862, and reached the Makololo capital in the following August, with the remnant of his faithful attendants. These, after their travels during the last seven years, were regarded by their countrymen asmen of great importance, and themselves assumed to be the true ancients, because they had seen more than their fathers,—a conception which reminds one of the suggestive allusions in the Book of Job to the knowledge and wisdom attributed to antiquity.
Returning to the East Coast in November, Livingstone welcomed the ill-fated Universities' mission, under the lamented Bishop Mackenzie ; and, having escorted its members to Magomero, their station on the healthy highlands, returned to his work of exploring the Zambesi and its tributaries. His greatest trial ensued: the deadly fever, which first carried off the English bishop, when on an expedition down the Shire, and in the same malarious district wrecked his mission, fearfully tested Livingstone's own party, and finally carried off his faithful wife in April, 1862, two short months after she had joined him from England. Two
years more were spent in river explorations, at the end of which time, the expedition having been recalled by the Home Government, Livingstone left Zanzibar toward the close of April, 1864, for Bombay, on his way to England. The voyage of two thousand five hundred miles, which was a very stormy one, was performed in about five weeks in the pluckiest style in the little “Lady Nyassa” steamer, the indefatigable adventurer being captain and pilot, assisted by a European stoker, carpenter, and mariner, two boys, and seven hitherto untried native Zambesians. These last proved capital sailors, one only being at all prostrated by seasickness, whilst two of the three European sailors were laid aside with it for a week or more.
Judged in any other view than that of geographical, and, to a limited extent, scientific research, this Government expedition can in itself be scarcely deemed a great success. But its results, notwithstanding the melancholy collapse of the Universities' mission, which has, unfortunately, fallen into feeble hands, were invaluable, supplying as they did, although at a lamentable cost of life, an experience as to the nature and necessities of inland travel in East Africa, which could in no other way be obtained, and throwing a flood of light on the horrors of the extermi. nating Portuguese slave-trade, which had, during Livingstone's absence in England, changed a smiling and thickly-peopled garden into a hideous wilderness. What he and his companions then witnessed nerved him with fresh determination not to pause in his self-imposed task. All his subsequent solitary researches have had the fourfold purpose,-of geographical discovery,—of destruction to the slave-trade, as the one vast wrong which paralyses every effort to benefit the African continent,-of the development of commercial enterprise as the principal means of accomplishing the previous object,-and, highest of all, of the founding of Christian Missions, without which all else would be vain.
In a future paper we shall probably advert to one cheering result of the representations of Livingstone and others, in the recent appointment of Sir Bartle Frere. But we must first refer to the remarkable success which crowned Mr. Stanley's enterprising effort to relieve the illustrious traveller and which once more, at the commencement of last year, put Christendom at rest as to his safety, after another absence of more than six years, during half of which period no intelligence about him had reached his anxious friends.
SCEPTICISM AND FAITH.* A RECENT writer, of the school whose tenets we are commenting upon, has put his case in its extreme form as follows. We quote his flagrant language in order to show the precise object at which modern Scepticism avowedly aims :
“God was in the beginning as He is still, omnipotent, omni-benevolent, omniscient, prescient. He said, 'I will create a being whom I shall call “man.” I could create him, if I so wished, not only perfect, but free from all risk of imperfection to come. But I shall not do this. I shall create him with a faculty for disobeying Me, which will be a flaw in him. I know beforehand that he will exercise this faculty, and when he does, I will consign him to endless misery and perdition. The creation so resolved upon was achieved, and the first man, yielding to an impulse engendered of the faculty thus advisedly implanted in him by his Creator, committed the foreseen and fore-condemned act. His Maker-his prescient and omni-benevolent Maker-exacted the penalty. Then, severing himself, as it were for the moment, and casting himself athwart the will of his Father, God's own Son, who had of course no share whatever in man's fault, came forward and said, ' Do not damn him, O my Father, damn Me in his stead.' The Father accepted this substitution of His own innocent and only Son, and consented to forego the punishment of the actual delinquent.
* See the last volume of this Magazine, pp. 349–357.
“Now, to put aside all sensations of its horror, is not this an absolutely incomprehensible and self-contradictory tale? Either God was obliged to make man as He did, and then was not omnipotent, or He elected to make him as he did, being omnipotent, and then He was not omni-benevolent; or else He did not expect him to fall, and then He was not prescient—which is it to be ? Again, if He made him fit to fall, and knew that he would fall, the fall was a part of His purpose, and the enactment of the penalty can only be taken to have sprung from a love of pain. But the sequel, in the substitution of His only and wellbeloved Son, who was innocent under every aspect, puts, as it were, a coping-stone upon the underbuilding of impossibilities. Of it we prefer to say nothing, lest we should be tempted to record our estimate of it in terms which would wound, more than we care to wound them, the feelings of large masses of sensitive and well-intentioned persons.
* Thus appears to so many of us that we are worth attention, to such of us that we are worth reclamation, the cardinal doctrine of Christianity. We have chosen it to state it, because, if it be abandoned, the other dogmata and facts of the creed can be easily dealt with. It is either provable or it is not; it is either probable or it is not; it is either comprehensible or it is not. Its parts are either reconcilable or they are not-or, to put the alternative more strongly—they are one by one, and taken together, immoral, incongruous, and utterly repulsive to the noblest element in the nobler sort of men, the mind. On the hypothesis that there be a God, the magnificent Projector, Protector, and Lord of this universe of matter, more palpable if less consummate in its glory than Himself, who was it, asks the sceptic, who made my mind to be the noblest part of me, and taught me to judge it to be the noblest ? Was it not God Himself ? Can I think of Him with aught else than it ? Or can it think of Him otherwise than by its own laws—the laws which He has limited and arranged? And can it, then, really be that He has revealed Himself to me in ghastly phantasmagoria upon which that mind, so working as He has made it to work, and which He has given me for my sanction and guidance, can pass but one verdict ? Give me
demonstration of this, and I will acknowledge it; shattered, wretched, confounded, in despair, though I shall be, I will acknowledge it. But not till then will I for a cruel fable surrender my hopeful passion for the knowledge of my Maker, whoever He may be; my filial yearnings for my unknown Father; my dreams of the great unimaginable origin; my sightless, ignorant, but undebased efforts to picture and to worship the unknown but the true Most High.”
From committing themselves to such principles, or non-principles, as this desperate language seeks to embody, the great mass of mankind instinctively shrink. Not a few, however, endeavour to pursue a middle path between yielding themselves fully to the Christian faith, and numbering themselves amongst its declared opponents. The substance of the creed held by this class is, that the human mind only needs scope, leisure, and especially a continuance of the advantages enjoyed for the last few ages, to arrive at results identical in fact, if not in form, with those held out by Revelation. As if Revelation merely rested its claims on being beforehand with the philosopher,-as if it were chiefly characterized by bestowing its benefits on mankind at an earlier period than they would have been otherwise procurable. Thus the Gospel is no more than a favourable breeze that, a stormy course against head-winds nearly over, wafts the bark easily into port, else reached with difliculty, yet in due time reached. It is a service rendered to the way-worn traveller, when, every serious obstacle in his enterprise surmounted, he scarcely thinks it an equivalent for an abatement of his personal triumph; allies coming into view when the battle is already turning in our favour ;-assistance, not essential to our success, yet acceptable, possibly, as lessening the concluding toils of a successful campaign. We scarcely need say, that wherever this estimate of the value of revealed truth passes current, the recognition of its authority has vanished as a matter of course.
Waiving, for the present, all further reference to the assumption that attributes to man's unaided powers, either within a generation or two, or some indefinite number of ages hence, the realization of the security and happiness held out by the Christian scheme, we might venture to expostulate, on the principles of their own theory, with visionaries of this kind. Their scornful neglect of what is so highly prized when considered as the future result of man's own efforts, but in the mean time slighted from no other canse than that it is anticipated, as on their own admission it is, by the simple religion of Christ, would justify still more pointed questions than we shall here put to them.
Supposing, then, “ the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ," which, as establishing for man a restoring schemo, it is the chief business of Revelation to display, to be, after all, measurable; grant that it will one day be far behind, in our account of the sum of the Divine goodness, other forms of the manifestation of that goodness which shall reveal a glory in whose presence that of our Christianity will be forgotten; that the “ Sun of righteousness” itself, outshone by some more effulgent orb shall be but as a rayless moon in a summer sky,—the bare memento o a night now, thanks to man's expanding intellect, for ever past;- doe this “grace" therefore at once dwindle to a kindness on God's parts insignificant as to cancel the obligation to a practical reception of tl
doctrines which attend its present bestowment? Are the advantages actually available—identical by the lıypothesis with the results of future " progress "—to be neglected because, by a power superior to our own, and from an impulse loftier than any that we can justly challenge as conceivable by ourselves, the impulse of a Divine Benefactor's pity and love, they are already put within our reach ? Is it a trivial matter to find the toilsome search of slow-revolving ages, "prevented” by the Hand that reaches blessings at once from a higher sphere, and places in our midst the long-sought Tree of Life ; that here in the wilderness now draws that living water from the Rock in the search for which, if they refuse to be thus aided, the “nobler sort” will yet falter, and droop and sink, like so many before them? To have out-stripped the bounds of man's present powers, to have conferred present benefits equivalent to the fruits of his more mature capacities and concentrated energies; to have brought the distant forward and made it accessible, tangible, practical ; to have given us even now, in our ignorance, our waywardness, our feebleness, the pledge of a blissful immortality ;-is not this more, infinitely more, than sufficient to command instant obedience and hearty devoted. ness to the claims of Christianity, no less, even on this absurd theory, than a Divine prolepsis, in man's behalf, of the natural development of human destiny ?
We shall venture to offer a single suggestion to those who, believers after a fashion in Revelation, hope to secure the end yet neglect the means, seizing with misplaced eagerness upon every collateral advantage, whilst aliens to the temper and enemies to the moral functions of the Gospel. A question is in waiting for them, says our Book, to which they will do well, as a matter of common prudence, to be looking about for an answer. “Friend, how camest thou in hither not having a wedding garment?" are simple words, but enough to issue in the “speechless "conviction of a philosophy which, decking itself by borrowing from Revelation whatever falls in with its intellectual and ästhetical tastes, turns with disdain from the primary demand of a spiritual regeneration.
The “heavenly gift,” however, is vastly more precious than the present bestowment, an anticipated usufruct, of somewhat, that, were only sufficient opportunities afforded, every man could work out for him. self. It comes to us direct, in independent action and unborrowed glory, from the Infinite Mind. It is a Divine product-a distinct, and for us a new embodiment of the personal Will, and the loftiest term and mode of Power. Its birth is from within the Throne, as high beyond all that man, however far advanced in the cycles of a hoary eternity, could have independently reached, as the stars that glitter at midnight above him. Christianity in truth is nothing less than a “new Creation.” It is the “Word” repeated, but repeated, and designed from the beginning to be repeated, in more than its first significance and virtue. That Word has spoken, and another light springs forth, streaming upon the universe nob merely as the first visible sign-manual of its Maker, but as initiating a development of His moral power in its highest type, in absolute and infinite act. Whether regarded as embodying a final system of Theology, or as efficiently enforcing the practice of morality, or, better still, as