Home
  By Author [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Title [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Language
all Classics books content using ISYS

Download this book: [ ASCII | HTML | PDF ]

Look for this book on Amazon


We have new books nearly every day.
If you would like a news letter once a week or once a month
fill out this form and we will give you a summary of the books for that week or month by email.

Title: Occasional Papers - Selected from the Guardian,  the Times, and the Saturday Review, - 1846-1890
Author: Church, R. W. (Richard William), 1815-1890
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Occasional Papers - Selected from the Guardian,  the Times, and the Saturday Review, - 1846-1890" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.



OCCASIONAL PAPERS

SELECTED FROM
THE GUARDIAN, THE TIMES, AND THE SATURDAY REVIEW
1846-1890


By the late
R.W. CHURCH, M.A., D.C.L.
Sometime Rector of Whatley, Dean of St. Paul's,
Honorary Fellow of Oriel College


In Two Vols.--VOL. II


London
Macmillan and Co., Limited
New York: The Macmillan Company

1897

_First Edition February_ 1897
_Reprinted April_ 1897



CONTENTS

I       MR. GLADSTONE ON THE ROYAL SUPREMACY

II      JOYCE ON COURTS OF SPIRITUAL APPEAL

III     PRIVY COUNCIL JUDGMENTS

IV      SIR JOHN COLERIDGE ON THE PURCHAS CASE

V       MR. GLADSTONE'S LETTER ON THE ENGLISH CHURCH

VI      DISENDOWMENT

VII     THE NEW COURT

VIII    MOZLEY'S BAMPTON LECTURES

IX      ECCE HOMO

X       THE AUTHOR OF "ROBERT ELSMERE" ON A NEW REFORMATION

XI      RENAN'S "VIE DE JÉSUS"

XII     RENAN'S "LES APÔTRES"

XIII    RENAN'S HIBBERT LECTURES

XIV     RENAN'S "SOUVENIRS D'ENFANCE"

XV      LIFE OF FREDERICK ROBERTSON

XVI     LIFE OF BARON BUNSEN

XVII    COLERIDGE'S MEMOIR OF KEBLE

XVIII   MAURICE'S THEOLOGICAL ESSAYS

XIX     FREDERICK DENISON MAURICE

XX      SIR RICHARD CHURCH

XXI     DEATH OF BISHOP WILBERFORCE

XXII    RETIREMENT OF THE PROVOST OF ORIEL

XXIII   MARK PATTISON

XXIV    PATTISON'S ESSAYS

XXV     BISHOP FRAZER

XXVI    NEWMAN'S "APOLOGIA"

XXVII   DR. NEWMAN ON THE "EIRENICON"

XXVIII  NEWMAN'S PAROCHIAL SERMONS

XXIX    CARDINAL NEWMAN

XXX     CARDINAL NEWMAN'S COURSE

XXXI    CARDINAL NEWMAN'S NATURALNESS

XXXII   LORD BLACHFORD



I

MR. GLADSTONE ON THE ROYAL SUPREMACY[1]


  [1]
  _Remarks on the Royal Supremacy, as it is Defined by Reason, History,
  and the Constitution_. A Letter to the Lord Bishop of London, by
  the Right Hon. W.E. Gladstone, M.P. for the University of Oxford.
  _Guardian_, 10th July 1850.

Mr. Gladstone has not disappointed the confidence of those who have
believed of him that when great occasions presented themselves, of
interest to the Church, he would not be found wanting. A statesman
has a right to reserve himself and bide his time, and in doubtful
circumstances may fairly ask us to trust his discretion as to when is
his time. But there are critical seasons about whose seriousness there
can be no doubt. One of these is now passing over the English Church.
And Mr. Gladstone has recognised it, and borne himself in it with a
manliness, earnestness, and temper which justify those who have never
despaired of his doing worthy service to the Church, with whose cause
he so early identified himself.

The pamphlet before us, to which he has put his name, is the most
important, perhaps, of all that have been elicited by the deep interest
felt in the matter on which it treats. Besides its importance as the
expression of the opinion, and, it must be added, the anxieties of a
leading statesman, it has two intrinsic advantages. It undertakes to
deal closely and strictly with those facts in the case mainly belonging
to the period of the Reformation, on which the great stress has been
laid in the arguments both against our liberty and our very being as a
Church. And, further, it gives us on these facts, and, in connection
with them, on the events of the crisis itself, the judgment and the
anticipations of a mind at once deeply imbued with religious
philosophy, and also familiar with the consideration of constitutional
questions, and accustomed to view them in their practical entanglements
as well as in their abstract and ideal forms. It is, indeed, thus only
that the magnitude and the true extent of the relations of the present
contest can be appreciated. The intrinsic greatness, indeed, of
religious interests cannot receive addition of dignity here. But the
manner of treating them may. And Mr. Gladstone has done what was both
due to the question at issue, and in the highest degree important for
its serious consideration and full elucidation, in raising it from a
discussion of abstract principles to what it is no less--a real problem
of English constitutional law.

The following passage will show briefly the ground over which the
discussion travels:--

    The questions, then, that I seek to examine will be as follow:--

    1. Did the statutes of the Reformation involve the abandonment of
    the duty of the Church to be the guardian of her faith?

    2. Is the present composition of the appellate tribunal conformable
    either to reason or to the statutes of the Reformation, and the
    spirit of the Constitution as expressed in them?

    3. Is the Royal Supremacy, according to the Constitution, any bar
    to the adjustment of the appellate jurisdiction in such a manner
    as that it shall convey the sense of the Church in questions of
    doctrine?

    All these questions I humbly propose to answer in the negative,
    and so to answer them in conformity with what I understand to be
    the principles of our history and law. My endeavour will be to
    show that the powers of the State so determined, in regard to the
    legislative office of the Church (setting aside for the moment any
    question as to the right of assent in the laity), are powers of
    restraint; that the jurisdictions united and annexed to the Crown
    are corrective jurisdictions; and that their exercise is subject
    to the general maxim, that the laws ecclesiastical are to be
    administered by ecclesiastical judges.

Mr. Gladstone first goes into the question--What was done, and what was
the understanding at the Reformation? All agree that this was a time of
great changes, and that in the settlement resulting from them the State
took, and the Church yielded, a great deal. And on the strength of this
broad general fact, the details of the settlement have been treated
with an _a priori_ boldness, not deficient often in that kind of
precision which can be gained by totally putting aside inconvenient
or perplexing elements, and having both its intellectual and moral
recommendations to many minds; but highly undesirable where a great
issue has been raised for the religion of millions, and the political
constitution of a great nation. Men who are not lawyers seem to have
thought that, by taking a lawyer's view, or what they considered such,
of the Reformation Acts, they had disposed of the question for ever. It
was, indeed, time for a statesman to step in, and protest, if only in
the name of constitutional and political philosophy, against so narrow
and unreal an abuse of law-texts--documents of the highest importance
in right hands, and in their proper place, but capable, as all must
know, of leading to inconceivable absurdity in speculation, and not
impossibly fatal confusion in fact.

The bulk of this pamphlet is devoted to the consideration of the language
and effect, legal and constitutional, of those famous statutes with the
titles of which recent controversy has made us so familiar. Mr.
Gladstone makes it clear that it does not at all follow that because the
Church conceded a great deal, she conceded, or even was expected to
concede, indefinitely, whatever might be claimed. She conceded, but she
conceded by compact;--a compact which supposed her power to concede, and
secured to her untouched whatever was not conceded. And she did not
concede, nor was asked for, her highest power, her legislative power.
She did not concede, nor was asked to concede, that any but her own
ministers--by the avowal of all drawing their spiritual authority from a
source which nothing human could touch--should declare her doctrine, or
should be employed in administering her laws. What she did concede was,
not original powers of direction and guidance, but powers of restraint
and correction;--under securities greater, both in form and in working,
than those possessed at the time by any other body in England, for their
rights and liberties--greater far than might have been expected, when
the consequences of a long foreign supremacy--not righteously maintained
and exercised, because at the moment unrighteously thrown off--increased
the control which the Civil Government always must claim over the
Church, by the sudden abstraction of a power which, though usurping, was
spiritual; and presented to the ambition of a despotic King a number of
unwarrantable prerogatives which the separation from the Pope had left
without an owner.

On the trite saying, meant at first to represent, roughly and
invidiously, the effect of the Reformation, and lately urged as
technically and literally true--"The assertion that in the time of
Henry VIII. the See of Rome was both 'the source and centre of
ecclesiastical jurisdiction,' and therefore the supreme judge of
doctrine; and that this power of the Pope was transferred in its
entireness to the Crown"--Mr. Gladstone remarks as follows:--

    I will not ask whether the Pope was indeed at that time the
    supreme judge of doctrine; it is enough for me that not very long
    before the Council of Constance had solemnly said otherwise, in
    words which, though they may be forgotten, cannot be annulled....

    That the Pope was the source of ecclesiastical jurisdiction in the
    English Church before the Reformation is an assertion of the
    gravest import, which ought not to have been thus taken for
    granted.... The fact really is this:--A modern opinion, which, by
    force of modern circumstances, has of late gained great favour in
    the Church of Rome, is here dated back and fastened upon ages to
    whose fixed principles it was unknown and alien; and the case of
    the Church of England is truly hard when the Papal authority of
    the Middle Ages is exaggerated far beyond its real and historical
    scope, with the effect only of fastening that visionary
    exaggeration, through the medium of another fictitious notion of
    wholesale transfer of the Papal privileges to the Crown, upon us,
    as the true and legal measure of the Royal Supremacy.

    It appears to me that he who alleges in the gross that the Papal
    prerogatives were carried over to the Crown at the Reformation,
    greatly belies the laws and the people of that era. Their
    unvarying doctrine was, that they were restoring the ancient regal
    jurisdiction, and abolishing one that had been usurped. But there
    is no evidence to show that these were identical in themselves, or
    co-extensive in their range. In some respects the Crown obtained
    at that period more than the Pope had ever had; for I am not aware
    that the Convocation required his license to deliberate upon
    canons, or his assent to their promulgation. In other respects the
    Crown acquired less; for not the Crown, but the Archbishop of
    Canterbury was appointed to exercise the power of dispensation in
    things lawful, and to confirm Episcopal elections. Neither the
    Crown nor the Archbishop succeeded to such Papal prerogatives as
    were contrary to the law of the land; for neither the 26th of
    Henry VIII. nor the 2nd of Elizabeth annexed to the Crown all the
    powers of correction and reformation which had been actually
    claimed by the Pope, but only such as "hath heretofore been or may
    lawfully be exercised or used." ... The "ancient jurisdiction,"
    and not the then recently claimed or exercised powers, was the
    measure and the substance of what the Crown received from the
    Legislature; and, with those ancient rights for his rule, no
    impartial man would say that the Crown was the source of
    ecclesiastical jurisdiction according to the statutes of the
    Reformation. But the statutes of the Reformation era relating to
    jurisdiction, having as statutes the assent of the laity, and
    accepted by the canons of the clergy, are the standard to which
    the Church has bound herself as a religious society to conform.

The word "jurisdiction" has played an important part in the recent
discussions; whether its meaning, with its various involved and
associated ideas, by no means free from intricacy and confusion, have
been duly unravelled and made clear, we may be permitted to doubt. A
distinction of the canonists has been assumed by those who have used
the word with most precision--_assumed_, though it is by no means a
simple and indisputable one. Mr. Gladstone draws attention to this,
when, after noticing that nowhere in the ecclesiastical legislation of
Elizabeth is the claim made on behalf of the Crown to be the source of
ecclesiastical jurisdiction, he admits that this _is_ the language of
the school of English law, and offers an explanation of the fact. That
which Acts of Parliament do not say, which is negatived in actual
practice by contradictory and irreconcilable facts, is yet wanted by
lawyers for the theoretic completeness of their idea and system of law.
The fact is important as a reminder that what is one real aspect, or,
perhaps, the most complete and consistent representation of a system
on paper, may be inadequate and untrue as an exhibition of its real
working and appearance in the world.

    To sum up the whole, then, I contend that the Crown did not claim
    by statute, either to be of right, or to become by convention, the
    _source_ of that kind of action, which was committed by the
    Saviour to the Apostolic Church, whether for the enactment of
    laws, or for the administration of its discipline; but the claim
    was, that all the canons of the Church, and all its judicial
    proceedings, inasmuch as they were to form parts respectively of
    the laws and of the legal administration of justice in the
    kingdom, should run only with the assent and sanction of the
    Crown. They were to carry with them a double force--a force of
    coercion, visible and palpable; a force addressed to conscience,
    neither visible nor palpable, and in its nature only capable of
    being inwardly appreciated. Was it then unreasonable that they
    should bear outwardly the tokens of that power to which they were
    to be indebted for their outward observance, and should work only
    within by that wholly different influence that governs the kingdom
    which is not of this world, and flows immediately from its King?
    ... But while, according to the letter and spirit of the law, such
    appear to be the limits of the Royal Supremacy in regard to the
    _legislative_, which is the highest, action of the Church, I do
    not deny that in other branches it goes farther, and will now
    assume that the supremacy in all causes, which is at least a claim
    to control at every point the jurisdiction of the Church, may also
    be construed to mean as much as that the Crown is the ultimate
    source of jurisdiction of whatever kind.

    Here, however, I must commence by stating that, as it appears to
    me, Lord Coke and others attach to the very word jurisdiction a
    narrower sense than it bears in popular acceptation, or in the
    works of canonists--a sense which excludes altogether that of the
    canonists; and also a sense which appears to be the genuine and
    legitimate sense of the word in its first intention. Now, when we
    are endeavouring to appreciate the force and scope of the legal
    doctrine concerning ecclesiastical and spiritual jurisdiction, it
    is plain that we must take the term employed in the sense of our
    own law, and not in the different and derivative sense in which it
    has been used by canonists and theologians. But canonists
    themselves bear witness to the distinction which I have now
    pointed out. The one kind is _Jurisdictio coactiva proprie dicta,
    principibus data_; the other is _Jurisdictio improprie dicta ac
    mere spiritualis, Ecclesiae ejusque Episcopis a Christo data_....

    Properly speaking, I submit that there is no such thing as
    jurisdiction in any private association of men, or anywhere else
    than under the authority of the State. _Jus_ is the scheme of
    rights subsisting between men in the relations, not of all, but of
    civil society; and _jurisdicto_ is the authority to determine and
    enunciate those rights from time to time. Church authority,
    therefore, so long as it stands alone, is not in strictness of
    speech, or according to history, jurisdiction, because it is not
    essentially bound up with civil law.

    But when the State and the Church came to be united, by the
    conversion of nations, and the submission of the private
    conscience to Christianity--when the Church placed her power of
    self-regulation under the guardianship of the State, and the State
    annexed its own potent sanction to rules, which without it would
    have been matter of mere private contract, then _jus_ or civil
    right soon found its way into the Church, and the respective
    interests and obligations of its various orders, and of the
    individuals composing them, were regulated by provisions forming
    part of the law of the land. Matter ecclesiastical or spiritual
    moulded in the forms of civil law, became the proper subject of
    ecclesiastical or spiritual jurisdiction, properly so called.

    Now, inasmuch as laws are abstractions until they are put into
    execution, through the medium of executive and judicial authority,
    it is evident that the cogency of the reasons for welding
    together, so to speak, civil and ecclesiastical authority is much
    more full with regard to these latter branches of power than with
    regard to legislation. There had been in the Church, from its
    first existence as a spiritual society, a right to govern, to
    decide, to adjudge for spiritual purposes; that was a true,
    self-governing authority; but it was not properly jurisdiction. It
    naturally came to be included, or rather enfolded, in the term,
    when for many centuries the secular arm had been in perpetual
    co-operation with the tribunals of the Church. The thing to be
    done, and the means by which it was done, were bound together; the
    authority and the power being always united in fact, were treated
    as an unity for the purposes of law. As the potentate possessing
    not the head but the mouth or issue of a river, has the right to
    determine what shall pass to or from the sea, so the State,
    standing between an injunction of the Church and its execution,
    had a right to refer that execution wholly to its own authority.

    There was not contained or implied in such a doctrine any denial
    of the original and proper authority of the Church for its own
    self-government, or any assertion that it had passed to and become
    the property of the Crown. But that authority, though not in its
    source, yet in its exercise, had immersed itself in the forms of
    law; had invoked and obtained the aid of certain elements of
    external power, which belonged exclusively to the State, and for
    the right and just use of which the State had a separate and
    independent responsibility, so that it could not, without breach
    of duty, allow them to be parted from itself. It was, therefore, I
    submit, an intelligible and, under given circumstances, a
    warrantable scheme of action, under which the State virtually
    said: Church decrees, taking the form of law, and obtaining their
    full and certain effect only in that form, can be executed only as
    law, and while they are in process of being put into practice can
    only be regarded as law, and therefore the whole power of their
    execution, that is to say, all juris diction in matters
    ecclesiastical and spiritual, must, according to the doctrine of
    law, proceed from the fountain-head of law, namely, from the
    Crown. In the last legal resort there can be but one origin for
    all which is to be done in societies of men by force of legal
    power; nor, if so, can doubt arise what that origin must be.

    If you allege that the Church has a spiritual authority to
    regulate doctrines and discipline, still, as you choose to back
    that authority with the force of temporal law, and as the State is
    exclusively responsible for the use of that force, you must be
    content to fold up the authority of the Church in that exterior
    form through which you desire it to take effect. From whatsoever
    source it may come originally, it comes to the subject as law; it
    therefore comes to him from the fountain of law.... The faith of
    Christendom has been received in England; the discipline of the
    Christian Church, cast into its local form, modified by statutes
    of the realm, and by the common law and prerogative, has from time
    immemorial been received in England; but we can view them only as
    law, although you may look further back to the divine and
    spiritual sanction, in virtue of which they acquired that social
    position, which made it expedient that they should associate with
    law and should therefore become law.

But as to the doctrine itself, it is most obvious to notice that it is
not more strange, and not necessarily more literally real, than those
other legal views of royal prerogative and perfection, which are the
received theory of all our great jurists--accepted by them for very
good reasons, but not the less astounding when presented as naked and
independent truths. It was natural enough that they should claim for
the Crown the origination of ecclesiastical jurisdiction, considering
what else they claimed for it. Mr. Allen can present us with a more
than Chinese idea of royal power, when he draws it only from
Blackstone:--

    They may have heard [he says, speaking of the "unlearned in the
    law"] that the law of England is founded in reason and wisdom. The
    first lesson they are taught will inform them, that the law of
    England attributes to the King absolute perfection, absolute
    immortality, and legal ubiquity. They will be told that the King
    of England is not only incapable of doing wrong, but of thinking
    wrong. They will be informed that he never dies, that he is
    invisible as well as immortal, and that in the eye of the law he
    is present at one and the same instant in every court of justice
    within his dominions.... They may have been told that the royal
    prerogative in England is limited; but when they consult the sages
    of the law, they will be assured that the legal authority of the
    King of England is absolute and irresistible ... that all are
    under him, while he is under none but God....

    If they have had the benefit of a liberal education, they have
    been taught that to obtain security for persons and property was
    the great end for which men submitted to the restraints of civil
    government; and they may have heard of the indispensable necessity
    of an independent magistracy for the due administration of
    justice; but when they direct their inquiries to the laws and
    constitution of England, they will find it an established maxim in
    that country that all jurisdiction emanates from the Crown. They
    will be told that the King is not ony the chief, but the sole
    magistrate of the nation; and that all others act by his
    commission, and in subordination to him.[2]

  [2]
  _Allen on the Royal Prerogative_, pp. 1-3.

"In the most limited monarchy," as he says truly the "King is
represented in law books, as in theory an absolute sovereign." "Even
now," says Mr. Gladstone, "after three centuries of progress toward
democratic sway, the Crown has prerogatives by acting upon which,
within their strict and unquestioned bounds, it might at any time throw
the country into confusion. And so has each House of Parliament." But
if the absolute supremacy of the Crown _in the legal point of mew
exactly the same over temporal matters and causes as over spiritual_,
is taken by no sane man to be a literal fact in temporal matters, it is
violating the analogy of the Constitution, and dealing with the most
important subjects in a mere spirit of narrow perverseness, to insist
that it can have none but a literal meaning in ecclesiastical matters;
and that the Church _did_ mean, though the State _did not_ to accept a
despotic prerogative, unbounded by custom, convention, or law, and
unchecked by acknowledged and active powers in herself. Yet such is the
assumption, made in bitterness and vexation of spirit by some of those
who have lately so hastily given up her cause; made with singular
assurance by others, who, Liberals in all their political doctrines,
have, for want of better arguments, invoked prerogative against the
Church.

What the securities and checks were that the Church, not less than the
nation, contemplated and possessed, are not expressed in the theory
itself of the royal prerogative; and, as in the ease of the nation, we
might presume beforehand, that they would be found in practice rather
than on paper. They were, however, real ones. "With the same theoretical
laxity and practical security," as in the case of Parliaments and
temporal judges, "was provision made for the conduct of Church
affairs." Making allowance for the never absent disturbances arising
out of political trouble and of personal character, the Church had very
important means of making her own power felt in the administration of
her laws, as well as in the making of them.

    The real question, I apprehend, is this:--When the Church assented
    to those great concessions which were embodied in our permanent
    law at the Reformation, had she _adequate securities_ that the
    powers so conveyed would be exercised, upon the whole, with a due
    regard to the integrity of her faith, and of her office, which was
    and has ever been a part of that faith? I do not ask whether these
    securities were all on parchment or not--whether they were written
    or unwritten--whether they were in statute, or in common law, or
    in fixed usage, or in the spirit of the Constitution and in the
    habits of the people--I ask the one vital question, whether,
    whatever they were in form, they were in substance sufficient?

    _The securities_ which the Church had were these: First, that the
    assembling of the Convocation was obviously necessary for the
    purposes of taxation; secondly and mainly, that the very solemn
    and fundamental laws by which the jurisdiction of the See of Rome
    was cut off, assigned to the spiritualty of the realm the care of
    matters spiritual, as distinctly and formally as to the temporalty
    the care of matters temporal; and that it was an understood
    principle, and (as long as it continued) a regular usage of the
    Constitution, that ecclesiastical laws should be administered by
    ecclesiastical judges. These were the securities on which the
    Church relied; on, which she had a right to rely; and on which,
    for a long series of years, her alliance was justified by the
    results.

And further:--

    The Church had this great and special security on which to rely,
    that the Sovereigns of this country were, for a century after the
    Reformation, amongst her best instructed, and even in some
    instances her most devoted children: that all who made up the
    governing body (with an insignificant exception) owned personal
    allegiance to her, and that she might well rest on that personal
    allegiance as warranting beforehand the expectation, which after
    experience made good, that the office of the State towards her
    would be discharged in a friendly and kindly spirit, and that the
    principles of constitutional law and civil order would not be
    strained against her, but fairly and fully applied in her behalf.

These securities she now finds herself deprived of. This is the great
change made in her position--made insensibly, and In a great measure,
undesignedly--which has altered altogether the understanding on which
she stood towards the Crown at the Reformation. It now turns out that
that understanding, though it might have been deemed sufficient for the
time, was not precise enough; and further, was not sufficiently looked
after in the times which followed. And on us comes the duty of taking
care that it be not finally extinguished; thrown off by the despair of
one side, and assumed by the other as at length abandoned to their
aggression.

Mr. Gladstone comes to the question with the feelings of a statesman,
conscious of the greatness and excellence of the State, and anxious
that the Church should not provoke its jealousy, and in urging her
claims should "take her stand, as to all matters of substance and
principle, on the firm ground of history and law." It makes his
judgment on the present state of things more solemn, and his conviction
of the necessity of amending it more striking, when they are those of
one so earnest for conciliation and peace. But on constitutional not
less than on other grounds, he pronounces the strongest condemnation on
the present formation of the Court of Appeal, which, working in a way
which even its framers did not contemplate, has brought so much
distress into the Church, and which yet, in defiance of principle, of
consistency, and of the admission of its faultiness, is so recklessly
maintained. Feeling and stating very strongly the evil sustained by the
Church, from the suspension of her legislative powers,--"that loss of
command over her work, and over the heart of the nation, which it has
brought upon her,"--so strongly indeed that his words, coming from one
familiar with the chances and hazards of a deliberative assembly, give
new weight to the argument for the resumption of those powers,--feeling
all this, he is ready to acquiesce in the measure beyond which the
Bishops did not feel authorised to go, and which Mr. Gladstone regards
as "representing the extremest point up to which the love of peace
might properly carry the concessions of the Church":--

    That which she is entitled in the spirit of the Constitution to
    demand would be that the Queen's ecclesiastical laws shall be
    administered by the Queen's ecclesiastical judges, of whom the
    Bishops are the chief; and this, too, under the checks which the
    sitting of a body appointed for ecclesiastical legislation would
    impose.

    But if it is not of vital necessity that a Church Legislature
    should sit at the present time--if it is not of vital necessity
    that all causes termed ecclesiastical should be treated under
    special safeguards--if it is not of vital necessity that the
    function of judgment should be taken out of the hands of the
    existing court--let the Church frankly and at once subscribe to
    every one of these great concessions, and reduce her demands to a
    _minimum_ at the outset.

    Laws ecclesiastical by ecclesiastical judges, let this be her
    principle; it plants her on the ground of ancient times, of the
    Reformation, of our continuous history, of reason and of right.
    The utmost moderation, in the application of the principle, let
    this he her temper, and then her case will be strong in the face
    of God and man, and, come what may, she will conquer.... If, my
    Lord, it be felt by the rulers of the Church, that a scheme like
    this will meet sufficiently the necessities of her case, it must
    be no small additional comfort to them to feel that their demand
    is every way within the spirit of the Constitution, and short of
    the terms which the great compact of the Reformation would
    authorise you to seek. You, and not those who are against you,
    will take your stand with Coke and Blackstone; you, and not they,
    will wield the weapons of constitutional principle and law; you,
    and not they, will be entitled to claim the honour of securing the
    peace of the State no less than the faith of the Church; you, and
    not they, will justly point the admonitory finger to those
    remarkable words of the Institutes:--

    "And certain it is, that this Kingdom hath been best governed, and
    peace and quiet preserved, when both parties, that is, when the
    justices of the temporal courts and the ecclesiastical judges have
    kept themselves within their proper jurisdiction, without
    encroaching or usurping one upon another; and where such
    encroachments or usurpations have been made, they have been the
    seeds of great trouble and inconvenience."

    Because none can resist the principle of your proposal, who admit
    that the Church has a sphere of proper jurisdiction at all, or any
    duty beyond that of taking the rule of her doctrine and her
    practice from the lips of ministers or parliaments. If it shall be
    deliberately refused to adopt a proposition so moderate, so
    guarded and restrained in the particular instance, and so
    sustained by history, by analogy, and by common reason, in the
    case of the faith of the Church, and if no preferable measure be
    substituted, it can only be in consequence of a latent intention
    that the voice of the Civil Power should be henceforward supreme
    in the determination of Christian doctrine.

We trust that such an assurance, backed as it is by the solemn and
earnest warnings of one who is not an enthusiast or an agitator, but
one of the leading men in the Parliament of England, will not be
without its full weight with those on whom devolves the duty of guiding
and leading us in this crisis. The Bishops of England have a great
responsibility on them. Reason, not less than Christian loyalty and
Christian charity, requires the fairest interpretation of their acts,
and it may be of their hesitation,--the utmost consideration of their
difficulties. But reason, not less than Christian loyalty and charity,
expects that, having accepted the responsibilities of the Episcopate,
they should not withdraw from them when they arrive; and that there
should be neither shrinking nor rest nor compromise till the creed and
the rights of the Church entrusted to their fidelity be placed, as far
as depends on them, beyond danger.



II

JOYCE ON COURTS OF SPIRITUAL APPEAL[3]


  [3]
  _Ecclesia Vindicata; a Treatise on Appeals in Matters Spiritual_.
  By James Wayland Joyce. _Saturday Review_, 22nd October 1864.

Nothing can be more natural than the extreme dissatisfaction felt by a
large body of persons in the Church of England at the present Court of
Final Appeal in matters of doctrine. The grievance, and its effect, may
have been exaggerated; and the expressions of feeling about it
certainly have not always been the wisest and most becoming. But as the
Church of England is acknowledged to hold certain doctrines on matters
of the highest importance, and, in common with all other religious
bodies, claims the right of saying what are her own doctrines, it is
not surprising that an arrangement which seems likely to end in handing
over to indifferent or unfriendly judges the power of saying what those
doctrines are, or even whether she has any doctrines at all, should
create irritation and impatience. There is nothing peculiar to the
English Church in the assumption, either that outsiders should not
meddle with and govern what she professes to believe and teach, or
that the proper and natural persons to deal with theological questions
are the class set apart to teach and maintain her characteristic
belief. Whatever may ultimately become of these assumptions, they
unquestionably represent the ideas which have been derived from the
earliest and the uniform practice of the Christian Church, and are held
by most even of the sects which have separated from it. To any one who
does not look upon the English Church as simply a legally constituted
department of the State, like the army or navy or the department of
revenue, and believes it to have a basis and authority of its own,
antecedent to its rights by statute, there cannot but be a great
anomaly in an arrangement which, when doctrinal questions are pushed to
their final issues, seems to deprive her of any voice or control in the
matters in which she is most interested, and commits them to the
decision, not merely of a lay, but of a secular and not necessarily
even Christian court, where the feeling about them is not unlikely to
be that represented by the story, told by Mr. Joyce, of the eminent
lawyer who said of some theological debate that he could only decide it
"by tossing up a coin of the realm." The anomaly of such a court can
hardly be denied, both as a matter of theory and--supposing it to
matter at all what Church doctrine really is--as illustrated in some
late results of its action. It is still more provoking to observe, as
Mr. Joyce brings out in his historical sketch, that simple carelessness
and blundering have conspired with the evident tendency of things to
cripple and narrow the jurisdiction of the Church in what seems to be
her proper sphere. The ecclesiastical appeals, before the Reformation,
were to the ecclesiastical jurisdiction alone. They were given to the
civil power by the Tudor legislation, but to the civil power acting, if
not by the obligation of law, yet by usage and in fact, through
ecclesiastical organs and judges. Lastly, by a recent change, of which
its authors have admitted that they did not contemplate the effect,
these appeals are now to the civil jurisdiction acting through purely
civil courts. It is an aggravation of this, when the change which seems
so formidable has become firmly established, to be told that it was,
after all, the result of accident and inadvertence, and a "careless use
of terms in drafting an Act of Parliament"; and that difficult and
perilous theological questions have come, by "a haphazard chance,"
before a court which was never meant to decide them. It cannot be
doubted that those who are most interested in the Church of England
feel deeply and strongly about keeping up what they believe to be the
soundness and purity of her professed doctrine; and they think that,
under fair conditions, they have clear and firm ground for making good
their position. But it seems by no means unlikely that in the working
of the Court of Final Appeal there will be found a means of evading the
substance of questions, and of disposing of very important issues by a
side wind, to the prejudice of what have hitherto been recognised as
rightful claims. An arrangement which bears hard upon the Church
theoretically, as a controversial argument in the hands of Dr. Manning
or Mr. Binney, and as an additional proof of its Erastian subjection to
the State, and which also works ill and threatens serious mischief, may
fairly be regarded by Churchmen with jealousy and dislike, and be
denounced as injurious to interests for which they have a right to
claim respect. The complaint that the State is going to force new
senses on theological terms, or to change by an unavowed process the
meaning of acknowledged formularies in such a body as the English
Church, is at least as deserving of attention as the reluctance of
conscientious Dissenters to pay Church-rates.

Mr. Joyce's book shows comprehensively and succinctly the history of
the changes which have brought matters to their present point, and the
look which they wear in the eyes of a zealous Churchman, disturbed both
by the shock given to his ideas of fitness and consistency, and by the
prospect of practical evils. It is a clergyman's view of the subject,
but it is not disposed of by saying that it is a clergyman's view. It
is incomplete and one-sided, and leaves out considerations of great
importance which ought to be attended to in forming a judgment on the
whole question; but it is difficult to say that, regarded simply in
itself, the claim that the Church should settle her own controversies,
and that Church doctrine should be judged of in Church courts, is not a
reasonable one. The truth is that the present arrangement, if we think
only of its abstract suitableness and its direct and ostensible claims
to our respect, would need Swift himself to do justice to its exquisite
unreasonableness. It is absurd to assume, as it is assumed in the whole
of our ecclesiastical legislation, that the Church is bound to watch
most jealously over doctrine, and then at the last moment to refuse her
the natural means of guarding it. It is absurd to assume that the
"spiritualty" are the only proper persons to teach doctrine, and then
to act as if they were unfit to judge of doctrine. It is not easy, in
the abstract, to see why articles which were trusted to clergymen to
draw up may not be trusted to clergymen to explain, and why what there
was learning and wisdom enough to do in the violent party times and
comparative inexperience of the Reformation, cannot be safely left to
the learning and wisdom of our day for correction or completion. If
Churchmen and ecclesiastics may care too much for the things about
which they dispute, it seems undeniable that lawyers who need not even
be Christians, may care for them too little; and if the Churchmen make
a mistake in the matter, at least it is their own affair, and they may
be more fairly made to take the consequences of their own acts than of
other people's. A strong case, if a strong case were all that was
wanted, might be made out for a change in the authority which at
present pronounces in the last resort on Church of England doctrine.

But the difficulty is, not to see that the present state of things,
which has come about almost by accident, is irregular and
unsatisfactory, and that in it the civil power has stolen a march on
the privileges which even Tudors and Hanoverians left to the Church,
but to suggest what would be more just and more promising. A mixed
tribunal, composed of laymen and ecclesiastics, would be in effect, as
Mr. Joyce perceives, simply the present court with a sham colour of
Church authority added to it; and he describes with candid force the
confusion which might arise if the lawyers and divines took different
sides, and how, in the unequal struggle, the latter might "find
themselves hopelessly prostrate in the stronger grasp of their more
powerful associates." His own scheme of a theological and
ecclesiastical committee of reference, to which a purely legal tribunal
might send down questions of doctrine to be answered, as "experts" or
juries give answers about matters of science or matters of fact, is
hardly more hopeful; for even he would not bind the legal court, as of
course it could not be bound, to accept the doctrine of the
ecclesiastical committee. He promises, indeed, on the authority of Lord
Derby, that in ninety-nine cases out of a hundred the lawyers would
accept the answer of the divines; but whatever the scandal is now, it
would be far greater if an unorthodox judgment were given in flat
contradiction to the report of the committee of reference.

As to a purely ecclesiastical Court of Appeal, in the present state of
the Church both in England and all over the world, it ought to console
those who must be well aware that here at least it is hardly to be
looked for, to reflect how such courts act, after all, where they have
the power to act, and how far things would have gone in a better or
happier fashion among us if, instead of the Privy Council, there had
been a tribunal of divines to give final judgment. The history of
appeals to Rome, from the days of the Jansenists and Fénelon to those
of Lamennais, may be no doubt satisfactory to those who believe it
necessary to ascribe to the Pope the highest wisdom and the most
consummate justice; but to those who venture to notice the real steps
of the process, and the collateral considerations, political and local,
which influenced the decision, the review is hardly calculated to make
those who are debarred from it regret the loss of this unalloyed purity
of ecclesiastical jurisdiction. And, as regards ourselves, it is true
that an ecclesiastical tribunal would hardly have been ingenious enough
to find the means of saying that Messrs. Wilson and Williams had not
taught in contradiction to the doctrines of the English Church, and
that they actually, under its present constitution, possessed the
liberty which, under a different--and, as some people think, a
better--constitution, they might possess. But it ought also to be borne
in mind what other judgments ecclesiastical tribunals might have given.
An ecclesiastical tribunal, unless it had been packed or accidentally
one-sided, would probably have condemned Mr. Gorham. An ecclesiastical
tribunal would almost certainly have expelled Archdeacon Denison from
his preferments. Indeed, the judgment of the Six Doctors on Dr. Pusey,
arbitrary and unconstitutional as it may be considered, was by no means
a doubtful foreshadowing of what a verdict upon him would have been
from any court that we can imagine formed of the high ecclesiastical
authorities of the time. It undoubtedly seems the most natural thing in
the world that a great religious body should settle, without hindrance,
its own doctrines and control its own ministers; but it is also some
compensation for the perversity with which the course of things has
interfered with ideal completeness, that our condition, if it had been
theoretically perfect, would have been perfectly intolerable.

It would be highly unwise in those who direct the counsels of the
Church of England to accept a practical disadvantage for the gain of a
greater simplicity and consistency of system. The true moral to be
deduced from the anomalies of ecclesiastical appeals seems to be, to
have as little to do with them as possible. The idea of seeking a
remedy for the perplexities of theology in judicial rulings, and the
rage for having recourse to law courts, are of recent date in our
controversies. They were revived among us as one of the results of the
violent panic caused by the Oxford movement, and of the inconsiderate
impatience of surprised ignorance which dictated extreme and forcible
measures; and as this is a kind of game at which, when once started,
both parties can play, the policy of setting the law in motion to
silence theological opponents has become a natural and favourite one.
But it may be some excuse for the legislators who, in 1833, in
constructing a new Court of Appeal, so completely forgot or underrated
the functions which it would be called to discharge in the decision of
momentous doctrinal questions, that at the time no one thought much of
carrying theological controversies to legal arbitrament. The experiment
is a natural one to have been made in times of strong and earnest
religious contention; but, now that it has had its course, it is not
difficult to see that it was a mistaken one. There seems something
almost ludicrously incongruous in bringing a theological question into
the atmosphere and within the technical handling of a law court, and in
submitting delicate and subtle attempts to grasp the mysteries of the
unseen and the infinite, of God and the soul, of grace and redemption,
to the hard logic and intentionally confined and limited view of
forensic debate. Theological truth, in the view of all who believe in
it, must always remain independent of a legal decision; and, therefore,
as regards any real settlement, a theological question must come out of
a legal sentence in a totally different condition from any others where
the true and indisputable law of the case is, for the time at least,
what the supreme tribunal has pronounced it to be. People chafed at not
getting what they thought the plain broad conclusions from facts and
documents accepted; they appealed to law from the uncertainty of
controversy, and found law still more uncertain, and a good deal more
dangerous. They thought that they were going to condemn crimes and
expel wrongdoers; they found that these prosecutions inevitably assumed
the character of the old political trials, which were but an indirect
and very mischievous form of the struggle between two avowed parties,
and in which, though the technical question was whether the accused had
committed the crime, the real one was whether the alleged crime were a
crime at all. Accordingly, wider considerations than those arising out
of the strict merits of the case told upon the decision; and the
negative judgment, and resolute evasion of a condemnation, in each of
the cases which were of wide and serious importance, were proofs of the
same tendency in English opinion which has made political trials,
except in the most extreme cases, almost inconceivable. They mean that
the questions raised must be fought out and settled in a different and
more genuine way, and that law feels itself out of place when called to
interfere in them. As all parties have failed in turning the law into a
weapon, and yet as all parties have really gained much more than they
have lost by the odd anomalies of our ecclesiastical jurisprudence, the
wisest course would seem to be for those who feel the deep importance
of doctrinal questions to leave the law alone, either as to employing
it or attempting to change it. Controversy, argument, the display of
the intrinsic and inherent strength of a great and varied system, are
what all causes must in the last resort trust to. Lord Westbury will
have done the Church of England more good than perhaps he thought of
doing, if his _dicta_ make theologians see that they can be much better
and more hopefully employed than in trying legal conclusions with
unorthodox theorisers, or in busying themselves with inventing
imaginary improvements for a Final Court of Appeal.



III

PRIVY COUNCIL JUDGMENTS[4]


  [4]
  _A Collection of the Judgments of the Judicial Committee of the Privy
  Council in Ecclesiastical Cases relating to Doctrine and Discipline;
  with a Preface by the Lord Bishop of London, and an Historical
  Introduction_. Edited by the Hon. G. Brodrick, Barrister-at-Law, and
  Rev. the Hon. W.H. Fremantle, Chaplain to the Bishop of London.
  _Guardian_, 15th February 1865.

The Bishop of London has done a useful service in causing the various
decisions of the present Court of Appeal to be collected into a volume.
There is such an obvious convenience about the plan that it hardly
needed the conventional reason given for it, that "the knowledge
generally possessed on the subject of the Court is vague, and the
sources from which accurate information can be obtained are little
understood; and that people who discuss it ought in the first place to
know what the Court is, and what it does." This is the mere customary
formula of a preface turned into a rhetorical insinuation which would
have been better away; most of those who care about the subject, and
have expressed opinions about it, know pretty well the nature of the
Court and the result of its working, and whatever variations there may
be in the judgment passed upon it arise not from any serious
imperfection of knowledge but from differences of principle. It was
hardly suitable in a work like this to assume a mystery and obscurity
about the subject where there is really none, and to claim superior
exactness and authenticity of information about a matter which in all
its substantial points is open to all the world. And we could conceive
the design, well-intentioned as it is, carried out in a way more
fitting to the gravity of the occasion which has suggested it. The
Bishop says truly enough that the questions involved in the
constitution of such a court are some of the most difficult with which
statesmen have to deal. Therefore it seems to us that a collection of
the decisions of such a court, put forth for the use of the Church and
nation under the authority of the Bishop of London, ought to have had
the dignity and the reserve of a work meant for permanence and for the
use of men of various opinions, and ought not to have had even the
semblance, as this book has, of an _ex parte_ pamphlet. The Bishop of
London is, of course, quite right to let the Church know what he thinks
about the Court of Final Appeal; and he is perfectly justified in
recommending us, in forming our opinion, to study carefully the facts
of the existing state of things; but it seems hardly becoming to make
the facts a vehicle for indirectly forcing on us, in the shape of
comments, a very definite and one-sided view of them, which is the very
subject of vehement contradiction and dispute. It would have been
better to have committed what was necessary in the way of explanation
and illustration to some one of greater weight and experience than two
clever young men of strong bias and manifest indisposition to respect
or attend to, or even to be patient with, any aspect of the subject but
their own in this complicated and eventful question, and who, partly
from overlooking great and material elements in it, and partly from an
imperfect apprehension of what they had to do, have failed to present
even the matters of fact with which they deal with the necessary
exactness and even-handedness. It seems to us that in a work intended
for the general use of the Church and addressed to men of all opinions,
they only remember to be thoroughgoing advocates and justifiers of the
Court which happens to have grown into such important consequence to
the English Church. The position is a perfectly legitimate one; but we
think it had better not have been connected with a documentary work
like the present, set forth by the direction and under the sanction of
a Bishop of London.

In looking over the cases which have been brought together into a
connected series, the first point which is suggested by the review is
the great and important change in the aspect and bearing of doctrinal
controversies, and in the situation of the Church, as affected by them,
which the creation and action of this Court have made. From making it
almost a matter of principle and boast to dispense with any living
judge of controversies, the Church has passed to having a very
energetic one. Up to the Gorham judgment, it can hardly be said that
the ruling of courts of law had had the slightest influence on the
doctrinal position and character of the Church. Keen and fierce as had
been the controversies in the Church up to that judgment, how often had
a legal testing of her standards been seriously sought for or seriously
appealed to? There had been accusations of heresy, trials,
condemnations, especially in the times following the Reformation and
preceding the Civil War; there had been appeals and final judgments
given in such final courts as existed; but all without making any mark
on the public mind or the received meaning of doctrines and
formularies, and without leaving a trace except in law reports. They
seem to have been forgotten as soon as the particular case was disposed
of. The limits of supposed orthodox belief revived; but it was not the
action of judicial decisions which either narrowed or enlarged them.
Bishop Marsh's Calvinists never thought of having recourse to law. If
the Church did not do entirely without a Court of Final Appeal, it is
simply a matter of fact that the same weight and authority were not
attached to the proceedings of such a court which are attached to them
now. But since the Gorham case, the work of settling authoritatively,
if not the meaning of doctrines and of formularies, at any rate the
methods of interpreting and applying them, has been briskly going on in
the courts, and a law laid down by judges without appeal has been
insensibly fastening its hold upon us. The action of the courts is
extolled as being all in the direction of liberty. Whatever this praise
may be worth, it is to be observed that it is, after all, a wooden sort
of liberty, and shuts up quite as much as it opens. It may save, in
this case or that, individual liberty; but it does so by narrowing
artificially the natural and common-sense grounds of argument in
religious controversy, and abridging as much as possible the province
of theology. Before the Gorham case, the Formularies in general were
the standard and test, free to both sides, about baptismal
regeneration. Both parties had the ground open to them, to make what
they could of them by argument and reason. Discipline was limited by
the Articles and Formularies, and in part by the authority of great
divines and by the prevailing opinion of the Church, and by nothing
else; these were the means which each side had to convince and persuade
and silence the other, and each side might hope that in the course of
time its sounder and better supported view might prevail. But now upon
this state of things comes from without a dry, legal, narrow
stereotyping, officially and by authority, of the sense to be put upon
part of the documents in the controversy. You appeal to the
Prayer-book; your opponent tells you, Oh, the Court of Appeal has ruled
against you there: and that part of your case is withdrawn from you,
and he need give himself no trouble to argue the matter with you.
Against certain theological positions, perhaps of great weight, and
theological evidence, comes, not only the doctrine of theological
opponents, but the objection that they are bad law. The interpretation
which, it may be, we have assumed all our lives, and which we know to
be that of Fathers and divines, is suddenly pronounced not to be legal.
The decision does not close the controversy, which goes on as keenly
and with perhaps a little more exasperation than before; it simply
stops off, by virtue of a legal construction, a portion of the field of
argument for one party, which was, perhaps, supposed to have the
strongest claim to it. The Gorham case bred others; and now, at last,
after fifteen years, we have got, as may be seen in Messrs. Brodrick
and Fremantle's book, a body of judicial _dicta_, interpretations,
rules of exposition, and theological propositions, which have grown up
in the course of these cases, and which in various ways force a meaning
and construction on the theological standards and language of the
Church, which in some instances they were never thought to have, and
which they certainly never had authoritatively before. Besides her
Articles and Prayer-hook, speaking the language of divines and open to
each party to interpret according to the strength and soundness of
their theological ground, we are getting a supplementary set of legal
limitations and glosses, claiming to regulate theological argument if
not teaching, and imposed upon us by the authority not of the Church or
even of Parliament but of the Judges of the Privy Council. This, it
strikes us, is a new position of things in the Church, a new
understanding and a changed set of conditions on which to carry on
controversies of doctrine; and it seems to us to have a serious
influence not only on the responsibility of the Church for her own
doctrine, but on the freedom and genuineness with which questions as to
that doctrine are discussed. The Court is not to blame for this result;
to do it justice, it has generally sought to decide as little as it
could; and the interference of law with the province of pure theology
is to be rather attributed to that mania for deciding, which of late
has taken possession pretty equally of all parties. But the
indisputable result is seen to be, after the experience of fifteen
years, that law is taking a place in our theological disputes and our
theological system which is new to it in our theological history; law,
not laid down prospectively in general provisions, but emerging
indirectly and incidentally out of constructions and judicial rulings
on cases of pressing and hazardous exigency; law, applying its
technical and deliberately narrow processes to questions which of
course it cannot solve, but can only throw into formal and inadequate,
if not unreal, terms; and laying down the limits of belief and
assertion on matters about which hearts burn and souls tremble, by the
mouth of judges whose consummate calmness and ability is only equalled
by their profound and avowed want of sympathy for the theology of which
their position makes them the expounders and final arbiters. A system
has begun with respect to English Church doctrine, analogous to that by
which Lord Stowell made the recent law of the sea, or that by which on
a larger scale the rescripts and decrees of the Popes moulded the great
system of the canon law.

This is the first thing that strikes us on a comparative survey of this
set of decisions. The second point is one which at first sight seems
greatly to diminish the importance of this new condition of things, but
which on further consideration is seen to have a more serious bearing
than might have been thought. This is, the odd haphazard way in which
points have come up for decision; the sort of apparent chance which has
finally governed the issue of the various contentions; and the
infinitesimally fine character of the few propositions of doctrine to
which the Court has given the sanction of its ruling. Knowing what we
all of us cannot help knowing, and seeing things which lawyers and
judges are bound not to allow themselves to see or take account of, we
find it difficult to repress the feeling of amazement, as we travel
through the volume, to see Mr. Gorham let off, Mr. Heath deprived, then
Dr. Williams and Mr. Wilson let off, and to notice the delicate
technical point which brought to nought the laborious and at one time
hopeful efforts of the worthy persons who tried to turn out Archdeacon
Denison. And as to the matter of the decisions, though undoubtedly
_dicta_ of great importance are laid down in the course of them, yet it
is curious to observe the extremely minute and insignificant statements
on which in the more important cases judgment is actually pronounced.
The Gorham case was held to affect the position of a great party; but
the language and theory actually examined and allowed would hardly, in
legal strictness, authorise much more than the very peculiar views of
Mr. Gorham himself. And in the last case, the outside lay world has
hardly yet done wondering at the consummate feat of legal subtlety by
which the issue whether the English Church teaches that the Bible is
inspired was transmuted into the question whether it teaches that every
single part of every single book is inspired. It might seem that
rulings, of which the actual product in the way of doctrinal
propositions was so small, were hardly subjects for any keen interest.
But it would be shortsighted to regard the matter in this way. In the
first place, whatever may have happened as yet, it is manifestly a
serious thing for Church of England doctrine to have been thrown, on a
scale which is quite new, into the domain of a court of law, to lie at
the mercy of the confessed chances and uncertainties of legal
interpretation, with nothing really effective to correct and remedy
what may possibly be, without any fault in the judges, a fatally
mischievous construction of the text and letter of her authoritative
documents. In the next place, no one can fail to see, no one in fact
affects to deny, that the general result of these recent decisions,
capricious as their conclusions look at first sight, has been to make
the Formularies mean much less than they were supposed to mean. The
tendency of every English court, appealed to not as a court of equity
but one of criminal jurisdiction, is naturally to be exacting and even
narrow in the interpretation of language. The general impression left
by these cases is that the lines of doctrine in the English Church are
regarded by the judicial mind as very faint, and not much to be
depended upon; and that these judgments may be the first steps in that
insensible process by which the unpretending but subtle and powerful
engine of interpretation has been applied by the courts to give a
certain turn to law and policy; applied, in this instance, to undermine
the definiteness and certainty of doctrine, and in the end, the
understanding itself which has hitherto existed between the Church and
the State, and has kept alive the idea of her distinct basis,
functions, and rights.

This is the view of matters which arises from an examination of the
proceedings contained in this volume. What is the argument urged in the
Historical Introduction to justify or recommend our acquiescence in it?
It seems to us to consist mainly in a one-sided and exaggerated
statement of the Supremacy claimed and brought in by Henry VIII., and
of the effect in theory and fact which it ought to have on our notion
of the Church and of Church right. The complaint of the present state
of things is, that those who may be taken to represent the interests of
the Church in such a matter as the character of her teaching are
practically excluded from having any real influence in the decision of
questions by which the character of that teaching is affected. The
answer is that she has no right to claim a separate interest in the
matter, and that the doctrine of the Royal Supremacy was meant to
extinguish, and has extinguished, any pretence to such a claim. The
_animus_ which pervades the work, and which is not obscurely disclosed
in such things as footnotes and abridgments of legal arguments, is thus
given--more freely, of course, than it would be proper to introduce in
a book like this--in some remarks of Mr. Brodrick, one of the editors,
at a recent discussion of the question of Ecclesiastical Appeals in a
committee of the Social Science Association. He is reported to have
spoken as follows:--

    The Church of England being established by law, could not be
    allowed any independence of action; and those who wished for it
    were like people who wanted to have their cake and eat it. As to
    the Privy Council, he had never heard its decisions charged with
    error. What was complained of was that it had declined to take the
    current opinions of theologians and make them part of the
    Thirty-nine Articles. There was no need whatever for the Privy
    Council to possess any special theological knowledge. The only
    case where that knowledge was necessary was when it was alleged
    that doctrines had been held in the Church without censure. That
    was a case in which considerable theological lore was required;
    but it was within the province of counsel to supply it. Divines
    had now discovered, what lawyers could have told them long ago,
    and what he knew some of them had been told--namely, that it would
    not do to treat the Thirty-nine Articles as penal statutes;
    because, if that were done, a coach might be easily driven through
    them. If they had wished to maintain the authority of the
    Articles, they would have done best to have kept quiet.

The present Court of Appeal is deduced, in the Historical Introduction,
as a natural and logical consequence, from Henry VIII.'s Supremacy.
Undoubtedly it is scarcely possible to overstate the all-grasping
despotism of Henry VIII., and if a precedent for anything reckless of
all separate rights and independence should be wanted, it would never
be sought in vain if looked for in the policy and legislation of that
reign. So far the editors are right; the power over religion claimed by
Henry VIII. will carry them wherever they want to go; it will give
them, if they need it, as a still more logical and legitimate
development of the Supremacy, the Court of High Commission. Only they
ought to have remembered, as fair historians, that even in the days of
the Supremacy the distinct nature and business of the Church and of
Churchmen was never denied. Laymen were given powers over the Church
and in the Church which were new; but the distinct province of the
Church, if abridged and put under new control, was not abolished. Side
by side with the facts showing the Supremacy and its exercise are a set
of facts, for those who choose to see them, showing that the Church was
still recognised, even by Henry VIII., as a body which he had not
created, which he was obliged to take account of, and which filled a
place utterly different from every other body in the State. Henry VIII.
played the tyrant with his Churchmen as he did with his Parliament and
with everybody else; and Churchmen, like everybody else, submitted to
him. But the "Imperialism" of Henry VIII., though it went beyond even
the Imperialism of Justinian and Charlemagne in its encroachments on
the spiritual power, as little denied the fact of that power as they
did. He recognised the distinct place and claims of the spiritualty;
and, as we suppose that even the editors of this volume hardly feel
themselves bound to make out the consistency of Henry, they might have
spared themselves the weak and not very fair attempt to get rid of the
force of the remarkable words in which this recognition is recorded in
the first Statute of Appeals (24 Henry VIII. c. 12). The words would,
no doubt, be worth but little, were it not that as a matter of fact a
spiritualty did act and judge and lay down doctrine, and even while
yielding to unworthy influence did keep up their corporate existence.

But when the ecclesiastical legislation of Henry VIII. is referred to,
not merely as the historical beginning of a certain state of things
which has undergone great changes in the course of events, but as
affording a sort of idea and normal pattern to which our own
arrangements ought to conform, as supplying us with a theory of Church
and State which holds good at least against the Church, it seems hard
that the Church alone should not have the benefit of the entire
alteration of circumstances since that theory was a reality. Those who
talk about the Supremacy ought to remember what the Supremacy pretended
to be. It was over _all_ causes and _all_ persons, civil as well as
ecclesiastical. It held good certainly in theory, and to a great extent
in practice, against the temporalty as much as against the spiritualty.
Why then are we to invoke the Supremacy as then understood, in a
question about courts of spiritual appeals, and not in questions about
other courts and other powers in the nation? If the Supremacy, claimed
and exercised as Henry claimed and exercised it, is good against the
Church, it is good against many other things besides. If the Church
inherits bonds and obligations, not merely by virtue of distinct
statutes, but by the force of a general vague arbitrary theory of royal
power, why has that power been expelled, or transformed into a mere
fiction of law, in all other active branches of the national life?
Unless the Church is simply, what even Henry VIII. did not regard it, a
creation and delegate of the national power, without any roots and
constitution of its own, why should the Church be denied the benefit of
the common sense, and the change in ideas and usage, which have been so
largely appealed to in civil matters? Why are we condemned to a theory
which is not only out of date and out of harmony with all the
traditions and convictions of modern times, hut which was in its own
time tyrannous, revolutionary, and intolerable? Arguments in favour of
the present Court, drawn from the reason of the thing, and the
comparative fitness of the judges for their office, if we do not agree
with them, at least we can understand. But precedents and arguments
from the Supremacy of Henry VIII. suggest the question whether those
who use them are ready to be taken at their word and to have back that
Supremacy as it was; and whether the examples of policy of that reign
are seemly to quote as adequate measures of the liberty and rights of
any set of Englishmen.

The question really calling for solution is--How to reconcile the just
freedom of individual teachers in the Church with the maintenance of
the right and duty of the Church to uphold the substantial meaning of
her body of doctrine? In answering this question we can get no help
from this volume. It simply argues that the present is practically the
best of all possible courts; that it is a great improvement, which
probably it is, on the Courts of Delegates; and that great confidence
ought to be felt in its decisions. We are further shown how jealously
and carefully the judges have guarded the right of the individual
teacher. But it seems to us, according to the views put forward in this
book, that as the price of all this--of great learning, weight, and
ability in the judges--of great care taken of liberty--the Church is
condemned to an interpretation of the Royal Supremacy which floats
between the old arbitrary view of it and the modern Liberal one, and
which uses each, as it happens to be most convenient, against the claim
of the Church to protect her doctrine and exert a real influence on the
authoritative declaration of it. We all need liberty, and we all ought
to be ready to give the reasonable liberty which we profess to claim
for ourselves. But it is a heavy price to pay for it, if the right and
the power is to be taken out of the hands of the Church to declare what
is the real meaning of what she supposes herself bound to teach.



IV

SIR JOHN COLERIDGE ON THE PURCHAS CASE[5]


  [5]
  _Remarks on Some Parts of the Report of the Judicial Committee in
  the Case of "Elphinstone against Purchas."_ A Letter to Canon Liddon,
  from the Right Hon. Sir J.T. Coleridge. _Guardian_, 5th April 1871.

No one has more right to speak with authority, or more deserves to be
listened to at a difficult and critical moment for the Church, than Sir
J.T. Coleridge. An eminent lawyer, and a most earnest and well-informed
Churchman, he combines in an unusual way claims on the attention of all
who care for the interests of religion, and for those, too, which are
so deeply connected with them, the interests of England. The troubles
created by the recent judgment have induced him to come forward from
his retirement with words of counsel and warning.

The gist of his Letter may be shortly stated. He is inclined to think
the decision arrived at by the Judicial Committee a mistaken one. But
he thinks that it would be a greater and a worse mistake to make this
decision, wrong as it may be, a reason for looking favourably on
disestablishment as a remedy for what is complained of. We are glad to
note the judgment of so fair an observer and so distinguished a lawyer,
himself a member of the Privy Council, both on the intrinsic
suitableness and appropriateness of the position[6] which has been
ruled to be illegal, and on the unsatisfactoriness of the
interpretation itself, as a matter of judicial reading and
construction. A great deal has been said, and it is plain that the
topic is inexhaustible, on the unimportance of a position. We agree
entirely--on condition that people remember the conditions and
consequences of their assertion. Every single outward accompaniment of
worship may, if you carry your assertion to its due level, be said to
be in itself utterly unimportant; place and time and form and attitude
are all things not belonging to the essence of the act itself, and are
indefinitely changeable, as, in fact, the changes in them have been
countless. Kneeling is not of the essence of prayer, but imagine, first
prohibiting the posture of kneeling, and then remonstrating with those
who complained of the prohibition, on the ground of postures being
unimportant. It is obvious that when you have admitted to the full that
a position is in itself unimportant, all kinds of reasons may come in
on the further question whether it is right, fitting, natural. There
are reasons why the position which has been so largely adopted of late
is the natural and suitable one. Sir John Coleridge states them
admirably:--

  [6]
  The Eastward Position at the celebration of the Holy Communion.

    As to the place of standing at the consecration, my _feeling_ is
    with them. It seems to me not desirable to make it essential or
    even important that the people should see the breaking of the
    bread, or the taking the cup into the hands of the priest, and
    positively mischievous to encourage them in gazing on him, or
    watching him with critical eyes while so employed. I much prefer
    the _spirit of_ the Rubric of 1549--First Book of Edward
    VI.--which says, "These words before rehearsed are to be said
    turning still to the Altar, without any elevation, or showing the
    Sacraments to the people." The use now enforced, I think, tends to
    deprive the most solemn rite of our religion of one of its most
    solemn particulars. Surely, whatever school we belong to, and even
    if we consider the whole rite merely commemorative, it is a very
    solemn idea to conceive the priest at the head of his flock, and,
    as it were, a shepherd leading them on in heart and spirit,
    imploring for them and with them the greatest blessing which man
    is capable of receiving on earth; he alone uttering the
    prayer--they meanwhile kneeling all, and in deep silence
    listening, not gazing, rather with closed eyes--and with their
    whole undistracted attention, joining in the prayer with one heart
    and without sound until the united "Amen" breaks from them at the
    close, and seals their union and assent.

But, of course, comes the further question, whether, an English
clergyman is authorised to use it. He is not authorised if the Prayer
Book tells him not to. Of that there is no question. But if the Prayer
Book not only seems to give him the liberty, but, by the _prima facie_
look of its words, seems to prescribe it, the harshness of a ruling
which summarily and under penalties prohibits it is not to be smoothed
down by saying that the matter is unimportant. Sir John Coleridge's
view of the two points will be read with interest:--

    You will understand, of course, that I write in respect of the
    Report recently made by the Judicial Committee in the Purchas
    case. I am not about to defend it. No one, however, ought to
    pronounce a condemnation of the solemn judgment of such a tribunal
    without much consideration; and this remark applies with, special
    force to myself, well knowing as I do those from whom it
    proceeded, and having withdrawn from sharing in the labours of the
    Committee only because age had impaired, with the strength of my
    body, the faculties also of my mind; and so disabled me from the
    proper discharge of any judicial duties. With this admission on my
    part, I yet venture to say that I think Mr. Purchas has not had
    justice done to him in two main points of the late appeal; I mean
    the use of the vestments complained of and the side of the
    communion-table which he faced when consecrating the elements for
    the Holy Communion. Before I state my reasons, let me premise that
    I am no Ritualist, in the now conventional use of the term. I do
    not presume to judge of the motives of those to whom that name is
    applied. From the information of common but undisputed report as
    to some of the most conspicuous, I believe them entitled to all
    praise for their pastoral devotedness and their laborious,
    self-denying lives; still, I do not shrink from saying that I
    think them misguided, and the cause of mischief in the Church. So
    much for my _feeling_ in regard to the vestments. I prefer the
    surplice at all times and in all ministrations.

    This is _feeling_--and I see no word in the sober language of our
    rubric which interferes with it--but my _feeling_ is of no
    importance in the argument, and I mention it only in candour, to
    show in what spirit I approach the argument.

    Now Mr. Purchas has been tried before the Committee for offences
    alleged to have been committed against the provisions of the "Act
    of Uniformity"; of this Act the Common Prayer Book is part and
    parcel. As to the vestments, his conduct was alleged to be in
    derogation of the rubric as to the ornaments of the Church and the
    ministers thereof, which ordains that such shall be retained and
    be in use as were in the Church of England by the authority of
    Parliament in the second year of the reign of King Edward VI. The
    Act of Uniformity is to be construed by the same rules exactly as
    any Act passed in the last session of Parliament. The clause in
    question (by which I mean the rubric in question) is perfectly
    unambiguous in language, free from all difficulty as to
    construction; it therefore lets in no argument as to intention
    otrier than that which the words themselves import. There might be
    a seeming difficulty in _fact_, because it might not be known what
    vestments were in use by authority of Parliament in the second
    year of the reign of King Edward VI.; but this difficulty has been
    removed. It is conceded in the Report that the vestments, the use
    of which is now condemned, were in use by authority of Parliament
    in that year. Having that fact, you are bound to construe the
    rubric as if those vestments were specifically named in it,
    instead of being only referred to. If an Act should be passed
    to-morrow that the uniform of the Guards should henceforth be such
    as was ordered for them by authority and used by them in the 1st
    George I., you would first ascertain what that uniform was; and,
    having ascertained it, you would not inquire into the changes
    which may have been made, many or few, with or without lawful
    authority, between the 1st George I. and the passing of the new
    Act. All these, that Act, specifying the earlier date, would have
    made wholly immaterial. It would have seemed strange, I suppose,
    if a commanding officer, disobeying the statute, had said in his
    defence, "There have been many changes since the reign of George
    I.; and as to 'retaining,' we put a gloss on that, and thought it
    might mean only retaining to the Queen's use; so we have put the
    uniforms safely in store." But I think it would have seemed more
    strange to punish and mulct him severely if he had obeyed the law
    and put no gloss on plain words.

    This case stands on the same principle. The rubric indeed seems to
    me to imply with some clearness that in the long interval between
    Edward VI. and the 14th Charles II. there had been many changes;
    but it does not stay to specify them, or distinguish between what
    was mere evasion and what was lawful; it quietly passes them all
    by, and goes back to the legalised usage of the second year of
    Edward VI. What had prevailed since, whether by an Archbishop's
    gloss, by Commissions, or even Statutes, whether, in short, legal
    or illegal, it makes quite immaterial.

    I forbear to go through the long inquiry which these last words
    remind one of--not, I am sure, out of any disrespectful feeling to
    the learned and reverend authors of the Report, but because it
    seems to me wholly irrelevant to the point for decision. This
    alone I must add, that even were the inquiry relevant, the
    authorities on which they rely do not appear to me so clear or
    cogent, nor the analogies relied on so just, as to warrant the
    conclusion arrived at. For it should never be forgotten that the
    defendant in a criminal case, acquitted as to this charge by the
    learned judge below, was entitled to every presumption in his
    favour, and could not properly be condemned but by a judgment free
    from all reasonable doubt. And this remark acquires additional
    strength because the judgment will be final not only on him but on
    the whole Church for all time, unless reversed by the Legislature.

On the second point he thus speaks, in terms which for their guarded
moderation are all the more worth notice:--

    Upon the second point I have less to say, though it is to me much
    the most important. The Report, I think, cannot be shown
    conclusively to be wrong here, as it may be on the other; still it
    does not seem to me to be shown conclusively to be right. You have
    yourself given no reason in your second letter of the 8th March
    for doubting at least.

    Let me add that, in my opinion, on such a question as this, where
    a conclusion is to be arrived at upon the true meaning of Rubrics
    framed more than two centuries since, and certainly not with a
    view to any such minute criticism as on these occasions is and
    must be applied to them, and where the evidence of facts is by no
    means clear, none probably can be arrived at free from reasonable
    objection. What is the consequence? It will be asked, Is the
    question to receive no judicial solution? I am not afraid to
    answer, Better far that it should receive none than that injustice
    should be done. The principles of English law furnish the
    practical solution: dismiss the party charged, unless his
    conviction can be based on grounds on which reasonable and
    competent minds can rest satisfied and without scruple. And what
    mighty mischief will result to countervail the application of this
    rule of justice? For two centuries our Church has subsisted
    without an answer to the question which alone gives importance to
    this inquiry, and surely has not been without God's blessing for
    that time, in spite of all much more serious shortcomings. Let us
    remember that Charity, or to use perhaps a better word, Love, is
    the greatest of all; if that prevail there need be little fear for
    our Faith or our Hope.

Having said this much, Sir John Coleridge proceeds to the second, and
indeed the main object of his letter--to remonstrate against
exaggeration in complaint, both of the particular decision and of the
Court which gave it:--

    I now return to your letter. You proceed to attempt to show that
    the words of Keble to yourself, which you cite, are justified by
    remarks in this Report and some previous judgments of the same
    tribunal, which appear to you so inconsistent with each other as
    to make it difficult to believe that the Court was impartial, or
    "incapable of regarding the documents before it in the light of a
    plastic material, which might be made to support conclusions held
    to be advisable at the moment, and on independent grounds." I wish
    these words had never been written. They will, I fear, be
    understood as conveying your formed opinions; and coming from you,
    and addressed to minds already excited and embittered, they will
    be readily accepted, though they import the heaviest charges
    against judges--some of them bishops--all of high and hitherto
    unimpeached character. A very long experience of judicial life
    makes me know that judges will often provoke and bitterly
    disappoint both the suitors before them and the public, when
    discharging their duty honestly and carefully, and a man is
    scarcely fit for the station unless he can sit tolerably easy
    under censures which even these may pass upon him. Yet,
    imputations of partiality or corruption are somewhat hard to bear
    when they are made by persons of your station and character. When
    the Judicial Committee sits on appeals from the Spiritual Courts,
    it _may_ certainly be under God's displeasure, the members _may_
    be visited with judicial blindness, and deprived of the integrity
    which in other times and cases they manifest. Against such a
    supposition there is no direct argument, and I will not enter into
    such a disputation. I have so much confidence in your generosity
    and candour, on reflection, as to believe you would not desire I
    should.

    In the individual case I simply protest against the insinuation. I
    add a word or two by way of general observation.

    No doubt you have read the judgments in all the cases you allude
    to carefully; but have you read the pleadings and arguments of the
    counsel, so as to know accurately the points raised for the
    consideration of those who were to decide? To know the offence
    charged and the judgment pronounced may suffice in some cases for
    an opinion by a competent person, whether the one warranted the
    other; but more is required to warrant the imputation of
    inconsistency, partiality, or indirect motives. He who takes this
    on himself should know further how the pleadings and the arguments
    presented the case for judgment, and made this or that particular
    relevant in the discussion. Every one at all familiar with this
    matter knows that a judgment not uncommonly fails to reflect the
    private opinion of the judge on the whole of a great point,
    because the issues of law or fact actually brought before him, and
    which alone he was bound to decide, did not bring this before him.
    And this rule, always binding, is, of course, never more so than
    in regard to a Court of Final Appeal, which should be careful not
    to conclude more than is regularly before it. Let me add that a
    just and considerate person will wholly disregard the gossip which
    flies about in regard to cases exciting much interest; passing
    words in the course of an argument, forgotten when the judgment
    comes to be considered, are too often caught up, as having guided
    the final determination.

Such words are a just rebuke to much of the inconsiderate talk which
follows on any public act which touches the feelings, perhaps the
highest and purest feelings of men with deep convictions. Perhaps Mr.
Liddon's words were unguarded ones. But at the same time it is
necessary to state without disguise what is the truth in this matter.
It is necessary for the sake of justice and historical truth. The Court
of Final Appeal is not like other courts. It is not a pure and simple
court of law, though it is composed of great lawyers. It is doubtless a
court where their high training and high professional honour come in,
as they do elsewhere. But great lawyers are men, partisans and
politicians, statesmen, if you like; and this is a court where they are
not precluded, in the same degree as they are in the regular courts by
the habits and prescriptions of the place, from thinking of what comes
before them in its relation to public affairs. It is no mere invention
of disappointed partisans, it is no idle charge of wilful unfairness,
to say that considerations of high policy come into their
deliberations; it has been the usual language, ever since the Gorham
case, of men who cared little for the subject-matter of the questions
debated; it is the language of those who urge the advantages of the
Court. "It is a court," as the Bishop of Manchester said the other day,
speaking in its praise, "composed of men who look at things not merely
with the eyes of lawyers, but also with the eyes of statesmen."
Precisely so; and for that reason they must be considered to have the
responsibilities, not only of lawyers, but of statesmen, and their acts
are proportionably open to discussion. Sir John Coleridge urges the
impossibility of any other court; and certainly till we could be
induced to trust an ecclesiastical court, composed of bishops or
clergymen, in a higher degree than we could do at present, we see no
alternative. But to say that a clerical court would be no improvement
is not to prove that the present court is a satisfactory one. It may be
difficult under our present circumstances to reform it. But though we
may have reasons for making the best of it, we may be allowed to say
that it is a singularly ill-imagined and ill-constructed court, and one
in which the great features of English law and justice are not so
conspicuous as they are elsewhere. Suitors do not complain in other
courts either of the ruling, or sometimes of the language of judges, as
they complain in this. But when this is made a ground for joining with
the enemies of all that the English Church holds dear, to bring about a
great break-up of the existing state of things, we agree with Sir John
Coleridge in thinking that a great mistake is made; and if care is not
taken, it may be an irreparable one. He writes:--

    I hasten to my conclusion too long delayed, but a word must still
    be added on a subject of not less consequence than any I have yet
    touched on. You say, "Churchmen will to a very great extent indeed
    find relief from the dilemma in a third course, viz. _co-operation
    with the political forces_, which, year by year, more and more
    steadily are working towards disestablishment. This is not a
    menace; it is the statement of a simple fact." I am bound to
    believe, and I do believe, you do not intend this as a menace; but
    such a statement of a future course to depend on a contingency
    cannot but read very much like one--and against your intention it
    may well be understood as such. You do not say that _you_ are one
    who will co-operate with the political party which now seeks to
    disestablish the Church in accomplishing its purpose, and I do not
    suppose you ever will. But on behalf, not so much of the clergy as
    of the laity--on behalf of the worshippers in our churches, of the
    sick to be visited at home--of the poor in their cottages, of our
    children in their schools--of our society in general, I entreat
    those of the clergy who are now feeling the most acutely in this
    matter, not to suffer their minds to be so absorbed by the present
    grievance as to take no thought of the evils of disestablishment.
    I am not foolishly blind to the faults of the clergy--indeed I
    fear I am sometimes censorious in regard to them--and some of
    their faults I do think may be referable to Establishment; the
    possession of house and land, and a sort of independence of their
    parishioners, in some cases seems to tend to secularity. I regret
    sometimes their partisanship at elections, their speeches at
    public dinners. But what good gift of God is not liable to abuse
    from men? Taken as a whole, we have owed, and we do owe, under
    Him, to our Established clergy more than we can ever repay, much
    of it rendered possible by their Establishment. I may refer, and
    now with special force, to Education--their services in this
    respect no one denies--and but for Establishment these, I think,
    could not have been so effectively and systematically rendered. We
    are now in a great crisis as to this all-important matter.
    Concurring, as I do heartily, in the praise which has been
    bestowed on Mr. Forster, and expecting that his great and arduous
    office will be discharged with perfect impartiality by him, and
    with a just sense of how much is due to the clergy in this
    respect, still it cannot be denied that the powers conferred by
    the Legislature on the holder of it are alarmingly great, even if
    necessary; and who shall say in what a spirit they may be
    exercised by his successor? For the general upholding of religious
    education, in emergencies not improbable, to whom can we look in
    general so confidently as to the parochial clergy? I speak now
    specially in regard to parishes such as I am most familiar with,
    in agricultural districts, small, not largely endowed, sometimes
    without resident gentry, and with the land occupied by
    rack-renting farmers, indifferent or hostile to education.

In what Sir John Coleridge urges against the fatal step of welcoming
disestablishment under an impatient sense of injustice we need not say
that we concur most earnestly. But it cannot be too seriously
considered by those who see the mischief of disestablishment, that as
Sir John Coleridge also says, the English Churrh is, in one sense, a
divided one; and that to pursue a policy of humiliating and crippling
one of its great parties must at last bring mischief. The position of
the High Church party is a remarkable one. It has had more against it
than its rivals; yet it is probably the strongest of them all. It is
said, probably with reason, to be the unpopular party. It has been the
stock object of abuse and sarcasm with a large portion of the press. It
has been equally obnoxious to Radical small shopkeepers and "true blue"
farmers and their squires. It has been mobbed in churches and censured
in Parliament. Things have gone against it, almost uniformly, before
the tribunals. And unfortunately it cannot be said that it has been
without its full share of folly and extravagance in some of its
members. And yet it is the party which has grown; which has drawn some
of its antagonists to itself, and has reacted on the ideas and habits
of others; its members have gradually, as a matter of course, risen
into important post and power. And it is to be noticed that, as a
party, it has been the most tolerant. All parties are in their nature
intolerant; none more so, where critical points arise, than Liberal
ones. But in spite of the Dean of Westminster's surprise at High
Churchmen claiming to be tolerant, we still think that, in the first
place, they are really much less inclined to meddle with their
neighbours than others of equally strong and deep convictions; and
further, that they have become so more and more; and they have accepted
the lessons of their experience; they have thrown off, more than any
strong religious body, the intolerance which was natural to everybody
once, and have learned, better than they did at one time, to bear with
what they dislike and condemn. If a party like this comes to feel
itself dealt with harshly and unfairly, sacrificed to popular clamour
or the animosity of inveterate and unscrupulous opponents, it is
certain that we shall be in great danger.



V

MR. GLADSTONE'S LETTER ON THE ENGLISH CHURCH[7]


  [7]
  _Guardian_, 29th October 1884.

Mr. Gladstone's Letter, read at the St. Asaph Diocesan Conference, will
not have surprised those who have borne in mind his deep and
unintermitted interest in the fortunes and prospects of the Church, and
his habit of seeking relief from the pressure of one set of thoughts
and anxieties by giving full play to his mental energies in another
direction. Its composition and appearance at this moment are quite
accounted for; it is a contribution to the business of the conference
of his own diocese, and it was promised long before an autumn session
on a great question between the two Houses was in view. Still the
appearance of such a document from a person in Mr. Gladstone's position
must, of course, invite attention and speculation. He may put aside the
questions which the word "Disestablishment"--which was in the thesis
given him to write upon--is likely to provoke--"Will it come? ought it
to come? must it come? Is it near, or somewhat distant, or indefinitely
remote?" On these questions he has not a word to say. But, all the
same, people will naturally try to read between the lines, and to find
out what was in the writer's thoughts about these questions. We cannot,
however, see that there is anything to be gathered from the Letter as
to the political aspect of the matter; he simply confines himself to
the obvious lesson which passing events sufficiently bring with them,
that whatever may come it is our business to be prepared.

His anxieties are characteristic. The paper shows, we think, that it
has not escaped him that disestablishment, however compensated as some
sanguine people hope, would be a great disaster and ruin. It would be
the failure and waste to the country of noble and astonishing efforts;
it would be the break-up and collapse of a great and cheap system, by
which light and human kindliness and intelligence are carried to vast
tracts, that without its presence must soon become as stagnant and
hopeless as many of the rural _communes_ of France; the blow would at
the moment cripple and disorganise the Church for its work even in the
towns. But though "happily improbable," it may come; and in such a
contingency, what occupies Mr. Gladstone's thoughts is, not the
question whether it would be disastrous, but whether it would be
disgraceful. That is the point which disturbs and distresses him--the
possibility that the end of our later Church history, the end of that
wonderful experiment which has been going on from the sixteenth
century, with such great vicissitudes, but after every shock with
increasing improvement and hope, should at last be not only failure,
but failure with dishonour; and this, he says, could only come in one
of two ways. It might come from the Church having sunk into sloth and
death, without faith, without conscience, without love. This, if it
ever was really to be feared, is not the danger before us now.
Activity, conviction, energy, self-devotion, these, and not apathetic
lethargy, mark the temper of our times; and they are as conspicuous in
the Church as anywhere else. But these qualities, as we have had ample
experience, may develop into fierce and angry conflicts. It is our
internal quarrels, Mr. Gladstone thinks, that create the most serious
risk of disestablishment; and it is only our quarrels, which we have
not good sense and charity enough to moderate and keep within bounds,
which would make it "disgraceful."

The main feature of the Letter is the historical retrospect which Mr.
Gladstone gives of the long history, the long travail of the later
English Church. Hardly in its first start, under the Tudors, but more
and more as time went on, it instinctively, as it were, tried the great
and difficult problem of Christian liberty. The Churches of the
Continent, Roman and anti-Roman, were simple in their systems; only one
sharply defined theology, only the disciples and representatives of one
set of religious tendencies, would they allow to dwell within their
borders; what was refractory and refused to harmonise was at once cast
out; and for a certain time they were unvexed with internal
dissensions. This, both in the case of the Roman, the Lutheran, and the
Calvinistic Churches of the Continent, requires to be somewhat
qualified; still, as compared with the rival schools of the English
Church, Puritan and Anglican, the contrast is a true and a sharp one.
Mr. Gladstone adopts from a German writer a view which is certainly not
new to many in England, that "the Reformation, as a religious movement,
took its shape in England, not in the sixteenth century but in the
seventeenth." "It seems plain," he says, "that the great bulk of those
burned under Mary were Puritans"; and he adds, what is not perhaps so
capable of proof, that "under Elizabeth we have to look, with rare
exceptions, among the Puritans and Recusants for an active and
religious life." It was not till the Restoration, it was not till
Puritanism had shown all its intolerance, all its narrowness, and all
its helplessness, that the Church was able to settle the real basis and
the chief lines of its reformed constitution. It is not, as Mr.
Gladstone says, "a heroic history"; there is room enough in the
looseness of some of its arrangements, and the incompleteness of
others, for diversity of opinion and for polemical criticism. But the
result, in fact, of this liberty and this incompleteness has been, not
that the Church has declined lower and lower into indifference and
negation, but that it has steadily mounted in successive periods to a
higher level of purpose, to a higher standard of life and thought, of
faith and work. Account for it as we may, with all drawbacks, with
great intervals of seeming torpor, with much to be regretted and to be
ashamed of, that is literally the history of the English Church since
the Restoration settlement. It is not "heroic," but there are no Church
annals of the same time more so, and there are none fuller of hope.

But every system has its natural and specific danger, and the specific
English danger, as it is the condition of vigorous English life, is
that spirit of liberty which allows and attempts to combine very
divergent tendencies of opinion. "The Church of England," Mr. Gladstone
thinks, "has been peculiarly liable, on the one side and on the other,
both to attack and to defection, and the probable cause is to be found
in the degree in which, whether for worldly or for religious reasons,
it was attempted in her case to combine divergent elements within her
borders." She is still, as he says, "working out her system by
experience"; and the exclusion of bitterness--even, as he says, of
"savagery"--from her debates and controversies is hardly yet
accomplished. There is at present, indeed, a remarkable lull, a "truce
of God," which, it may be hoped, is of good omen; but we dare not be
too sure that it is going to be permanent. In the meantime, those who
tremble lest disestablishment should be the signal of a great break up
and separation of her different parties cannot do better than meditate
on Mr. Gladstone's very solemn words:--

    The great maxim, _in omnibus caritas_, which is so necessary to
    temper all religious controversy, ought to apply with a tenfold
    force to the conduct of the members of the Church of England. In
    respect to differences among themselves they ought, of course, in
    the first place to remember that their right to differ is limited
    by the laws of the system to which they belong; but within that
    limit should they not also, each of them, recollect that his
    antagonist has something to say; that the Reformation and the
    counter-Reformation tendencies were, in the order of Providence,
    placed here in a closer juxtaposition than anywhere else in the
    Christian world; that a course of destiny so peculiar appears to
    indicate on the part of the Supreme Orderer a peculiar purpose,
    that not only no religious but no considerate or prudent man
    should run the risk of interfering with such a purpose; that the
    great charity which is a bounden duty everywhere in these matters
    should here be accompanied and upheld by two ever-striving
    handmaidens, a great Reverence and a great Patience.

This is true, and of deep moment to those who guide and influence
thought and feeling in the Church. But further, those in whose hands
the "Supreme Orderer" has placed the springs and the restraints of
political movement and of change, if they recognise at all this view of
the English Church, ought to feel one duty paramount in regard to it.
Never was the Church, they tell us, more active and more hopeful; well
then, what politicians who care for her have to see to is that she
shall have _time_ to work out effectually the tendencies which are
visible in her now more than at any period of her history--that
combination which Mr. Gladstone wishes for, of the deepest individual
faith and energy, with forbearance and conciliation and the desire for
peace. She has a right to claim from English rulers that she should
have time to let these things work and bear fruit; if she has lost time
before, she never was so manifestly in earnest in trying to make up for
it as now. It is not talking, but working together, which brings
different minds and tempers to understand one another's divergences;
and it is this disposition to work together which shows itself and is
growing now. But it needs time. What the Church has a right to ask from
the arbiters of her temporal and political position in the country, if
that is ultimately and inevitably to be changed, is that nothing
precipitate, nothing impatient, should be done; that she should have
time adequately to develop and fulfil what she now alone among
Christian communities seems in a position to attempt.



VI

DISENDOWMENT[8]


  [8]
  _Guardian_, 14th October 1885.

This generation has seen no such momentous change as that which has
suddenly appeared to be at our very doors, and which people speak of as
disestablishment. The word was only invented a few years ago, and was
sneered at as a barbarism, worthy of the unpractical folly which it was
coined to express. It has been bandied about a good deal lately,
sometimes _de coeur léger_; and within the last six months it has
assumed the substance and the weight of a formidable probability. Other
changes, more or less serious, are awaiting us in the approaching
future; but they are encompassed with many uncertainties, and all
forecasts of their working are necessarily very doubtful. About this
there is an almost brutal clearness and simplicity, as to what it
means, as to what is intended by those who have pushed it into
prominence, and as to what will follow from their having their way.

Disestablishment has really come to mean, in the mouth of friends and
foes, simple disendowment. It is well that the question should be set
in its true terms, without being confused with vague and less important
issues. It is not very easy to say what disestablishment by itself
would involve, except the disappearance of Bishops from the Upper
House, or the presence of other religious dignitaries, with equal rank
and rights, alongside of them. Questions of patronage and
ecclesiastical law might be difficult to settle; but otherwise a
statute of mere disestablishment, not easy indeed to formulate, would
leave the Church in the eyes of the country very much what it found it.
Perhaps "My lord" might be more widely dropped in addressing Bishops;
but otherwise, the aspect of the Church, its daily work, its
organisations, would remain the same, and it would depend on the Church
itself whether the consideration paid to it continues what it has been;
whether it shall be diminished or increased. The privilege of being
publicly recognised with special marks of honour by the State has been
dearly paid for by the claim which the State has always, and sometimes
unscrupulously, insisted on, of making the true interests of the Church
subservient to its own passing necessities.

But there is no haziness about the meaning of disendowment. Property is
a tangible thing, and is subject to the four rules of arithmetic, and
ultimately to the force of the strong arm. When you talk of
disendowment, you talk of taking from the Church, not honour or
privilege or influence, but visible things, to be measured and counted
and pointed to, which now belong to it and which you want to belong to
some one else. They belong to individuals because the individuals
belong to a great body. There are, of course, many people who do not
believe that such a body exists; or that if it does, it has been called
into being and exists simply by the act of the State, like the army,
and, like the army, liable to be disbanded by its master. But that is a
view resting on a philosophical theory of a purely subjective
character; it is as little the historical or legal view as it is the
theological view. We have not yet lost our right in the nineteenth
century to think of the Church of England as a continuous, historic,
religious society, bound by ties which, however strained, are still
unbroken with that vast Christendom from which as a matter of fact it
sprung, and still, in spite of all differences, external and internal,
and by force of its traditions and institutions, as truly one body as
anything can be on earth. To this Church, this body, by right which at
present is absolutely unquestionable, property belongs; property has
been given from time immemorial down to yesterday. This property, in
its bulk, with whatever abatements and allowances, it is intended to
take from the Church. This is disendowment, and this is what is before
us.

It is well to realise as well as we can what is inevitably involved in
this vast and, in modern England, unexampled change, which we are
sometimes invited to view with philosophic calmness or resignation, as
the unavoidable drift of the current of modern thought, or still more
cheerfully to welcome, as the beginning of a new era in the prosperity
and strength of the Church as a religious institution. We are entreated
to be of good cheer. The Church will be more free; it will no longer be
mixed up with sordid money matters and unpopular payments; it will no
longer have the discredit of State control; the rights of the laity
will come up and a blow will be struck at clericalism. With all our
machinery shattered and ruined we shall be thrown more on individual
energy and spontaneous originality of effort. Our new poverty will spur
us into zeal. Above all, the Church will be delivered from the
temptation, incident to wealth, of sticking to abuses for the sake of
gold; of shrinking from principle and justice and enthusiasm, out of
fear of worldly loss. It will no longer be a place for drones and
hirelings. It is very kind of the revolutionists to wish all this good
to the Church, though if the Church is so bad as to need all these good
wishes for its improvement, it would be more consistent, and perhaps
less cynical, to wish it ruined altogether. Yet even if the Church were
likely to thrive better on no bread, there are reasons of public
morality why it should not be robbed. But these prophecies and
forecasts really belong to a sphere far removed from the mental
activity of those who so easily indulge in them. These excellent
persons are hardly fitted by habit and feeling to be judges of the
probable course of Divine Providence, or the development of new
religious energies and spiritual tendencies in a suddenly impoverished
body. What they can foresee, and what we can foresee also is, that
these _tabulae novae_ will be a great blow to the Church. They mean
that, and that we understand.

It is idle to talk as if it was to be no blow to the Church. The
confiscation of Wesleyan and Roman Catholic Church property would be a
real blow to Wesleyan or Roman Catholic interests; and in proportion as
the body is greater the effects of the blow must be heavier and more
signal. It is trifling with our patience to pretend to persuade us that
such a confiscation scheme as is now recommended to the country would
not throw the whole work of the Church into confusion and disaster, not
perhaps irreparable, but certainly for the time overwhelming and
perilous. People speak sometimes as if such a huge transfer of property
was to be done with the stroke of a pen and the aid of a few office
clerks; they forget what are the incidents of an institution which has
lasted in England for more than a thousand years, and whose business
extends to every aspect and degree of our very complex society from the
highest to the lowest. Resources may be replaced, but for the time they
must be crippled. Life may be rearranged for the new circumstances, but
in the meanwhile all the ordinary assumptions have to be changed, all
the ordinary channels of activity are stopped up or diverted.

And why should this vast and far-reaching change be made? Is it
unlawful for the Church to hold property? Other religious organisations
hold it, and even the Salvation Army knows the importance of funds for
its work. Is it State property which the State may resume for other
uses? If anything is certain it is that the State, except in an
inconsiderable degree, did not endow the Church, but consented in the
most solemn way to its being endowed by the gifts of private donors, as
it now consents to the endowment in this way of other religious bodies.
Does the bigness of the property entitle the State to claim it? This is
a formidable doctrine for other religious bodies, as they increase in
influence and numbers. Is it vexatious that the Church should be richer
and more powerful than the sects? It is not the fault of the Church
that it is the largest and the most ancient body in England. There is
but one real and adequate reason: it is the wish to disable and
paralyse a great religious corporation, the largest and most powerful
representative of Christianity in our English society, to exhibit it to
the nation after centuries of existence at length defeated and humbled
by the new masters' power, to deprive it of the organisation and the
resources which it is using daily with increasing effect for impressing
religious truth on the people, for winning their interest, their
confidence, and their sympathy, for obtaining a hold on the generations
which are coming. The Liberation Society might go on for years
repeating their dreary catalogue of grievances and misstatements.
Doubtless there is much for which they desire to punish the Church;
doubtless, too, there are men among them who are persuaded that they
would serve religion by discrediting and impoverishing the Church. But
they are not the people with whom the Church has to reckon. The
Liberationists might have long asked in vain for their pet
"emancipation" scheme. They are stronger men than the Liberationists
who are going in now for disendowment. They are men--we do them no
wrong--who sincerely think Christianity mischievous, and who see in the
power and resources of the Church a bulwark and representative of all
religion which it is of the first importance to get rid of.

This is the one adequate and consistent reason for the confiscation of
the property of the Church. There is no other reason that will bear
discussion to be given for what, without it, is a great moral and
political wrong. In such a settled society as ours, where men reckon on
what is their own, such a sweeping and wholesale transfer of property
cannot be justified, on a mere balance of probable expediency in the
use of it. Unless it is as a punishment for gross neglect and abuse, as
was alleged in the partial confiscations of the sixteenth century, or
unless it is called for as a step to break down what can no longer be
tolerated, like slavery, there is no other name for it, in the estimate
of justice, than that of a deep and irreparable wrong. This is
certainly not the time to punish the Church when it never was more
improving and more unsparing of sacrifice and effort. But it may be
full time to stop a career which may render success more difficult for
schemes ahead, which make no secret of their intention to dispense with
religion. This, however, is not what most Englishmen wish, whether
Liberals or Conservatives, or even Nonconformists; and without this end
there is no more justice in disendowing a great religious corporation
like the Church, than in disendowing the Duke of Bedford or the Duke of
Westminster. Of course no one can deny the competence of Parliament to
do either one or the other; but power does not necessarily carry with
it justice, and justice means that while there are great and small,
rich and poor, the State should equally protect all its members and all
its classes, however different. Revolutions have no law; but a great
wrong, deliberately inflicted in times of settled order, is more
mischievous to the nation than even to those who suffer from it.
History has shown us what follows from such gratuitous and wanton wrong
in the bitter feeling of defeat and humiliation lasting through
generations. But worse than this is the effect on the political
morality of the nation; the corrupting and fatal consciousness of
having once broken through the restraints of recognised justice, of
having acquiesced in a tempting but high-handed wrong. The effects of
disendowment concern England and its morality even more deeply than
they do the Church.



VII

THE NEW COURT[9]


  [9]
  _Guardian_, 15th May 1889.

The claim maintained by the Archbishop in his Judgment, by virtue of
his metropolitical authority and by that alone, to cite, try, and
sentence one of his suffragans, is undoubtedly what is called in slang
language "a large order." Even by those who may have thought it
inevitable, after the Watson case had been so distinctly accepted by
the books as a precedent, it is yet felt as a surprise, in the sense in
which a thing is often a surprise when, after being only talked about
it becomes a reality. We can imagine some people getting up in the
morning on last Saturday with one set of feelings, and going to bed
with another. Bishops, then, who in spite of the alleged anarchy, are
still looked upon with great reverence, as almost irresponsible in what
they say and do officially, are, it seems, as much at the mercy of the
law as the presbyters and deacons whom they have occasionally sent
before the Courts. They, too, at the will of chance accusers who are
accountable to no one, are liable to the humiliation, worry, and
crushing law-bills of an ecclesiastical suit. Whatever may be thought
of this now, it would have seemed extravagant and incredible to the
older race of Bishops that their actions should be so called in
question. They would have thought their dignity gravely assailed, if
besides having to incur heavy expense in prosecuting offending
clergymen, they had also to incur it in protecting themselves from the
charge of being themselves offenders against Church law.

The growth of law is always a mysterious thing; and an outsider and
layman is disposed to ask where this great jurisdiction sprung up and
grew into shape and power. In the Archbishop's elaborate and able
Judgment it is indeed treated as something which had always been; but
he was more successful in breaking down the force of alleged
authorities, and inferences from them, on the opposite side, than he
was in establishing clearly and convincingly his own contention.
Considering the dignity and importance of the jurisdiction claimed, it
is curious that so little is heard about it till the beginning of the
eighteenth century. It is curious that in its two most conspicuous
instances it should have been called into activity by those not
naturally friendly to large ecclesiastical claims--by Low Churchmen of
the Revolution against an offending Jacobite, and by a Puritan
association against a High Churchman. There is no such clear and strong
case as Bishop Watson's till we come to Bishop Watson. In his argument
the Archbishop rested his claim definitely and forcibly on the
precedent of Bishop Watson's case, and one or two cases which more or
less followed it. That possibly is sufficient for his purpose; but it
may still be asked--What did the Watson case itself grow out of? what
were the precedents--not merely the analogies and supposed legal
necessities, but the precedents--on which this exercise of
metropolitical jurisdiction, distinct from the legatine power, rested?
For it seems as if a formidable prerogative, not much heard of where we
might expect to hear of it, not used by Cranmer and Laud, though
approved by Cranmer in the _Reformatio Legum_, had sprung into being
and energy in the hands of the mild Archbishop Tenison. Watson's case
may be good law and bind the Archbishop. But it would have been more
satisfactory if, in reviving a long-disused power, the Archbishop had
been able to go behind the Watson case, and to show more certainly that
the jurisdiction which he claimed and proposed to exercise in
conformity with that case had, like the jurisdiction of other great
courts of the Church and realm, been clearly and customarily exercised
long before that case.

The appearance of this great tribunal among us, a distinctly spiritual
court of the highest dignity, cannot fail to be memorable. It is too
early to forecast what its results may be. There may be before it an
active and eventful career, or it may fall back into disuse and
quiescence. It has jealous and suspicious rivals in the civil courts,
never well disposed to the claim of ecclesiastical power or purely
spiritual authority; and though its jurisdiction is not likely to be
strained at present, it is easy to conceive occasions in the future
which may provoke the interference of the civil court.

But there is this interest about the present proceedings, that they
illustrate with curious closeness, amid so much that is different, the
way in which great spiritual prerogatives grew up in the Church. They
may have ended disastrously; but at their first beginnings they were
usually inevitable, innocent, blameless. Time after time the necessity
arose of some arbiter among those who were themselves arbiters, rulers,
judges. Time after time this necessity forced those in the first rank
into this position, as being the only persons who could be allowed to
take it, and so Archbishops, Metropolitans, Primates appeared, to
preside at assemblies, to be the mouthpiece of a general sentiment, to
decide between high authorities, to be the centre of appeals. The
Papacy itself at its first beginning had no other origin. It interfered
because it was asked to interfere; it judged because there was no one
else to judge. And so necessities of a very different kind have forced
the Archbishop of Canterbury of our day into a position which is new
and strange to our experience, and which, however constitutional and
reasonable it may be, must give every one who is at all affected by it
a good deal to think about.



VIII

MOZLEY'S BAMPTON LECTURES[10]


I

  [10]
  _Eight Lectures on Miracles: the Bampton Lectures for 1865_. By the
  Rev. J.B. Mozley, B.D. _The Times_, 5th and 6th June 1866.

The way in which the subject of Miracles has been treated, and the
place which they have had in our discussions, will remain a
characteristic feature of both the religious and philosophical
tendencies of thought among us. Miracles, if they are real things, are
the most awful and august of realities. But, from various causes, one
of which, perhaps, is the very word itself, and the way in which it
binds into one vague and technical generality a number of most
heterogeneous instances, miracles have lost much of their power to
interest those who have thought most in sympathy with their generation.
They have been summarily and loosely put aside, sometimes avowedly,
more often still by implication. Even by those who accepted and
maintained them, they have often been touched uncertainly and formally,
as if people thought that they were doing a duty, but would like much
better to talk about other things which really attracted and filled
their minds. In the long course of theological war for the last two
centuries, it is hardly too much to say that miracles, as a subject for
discussion, have been degraded and worn down from their original
significance; vulgarised by passing through the handling of not the
highest order of controversialists, who battered and defaced what they
bandied about in argument, which was often ingenious and acute, and
often mere verbal sophistry, but which, in any case, seldom rose to the
true height of the question. Used either as instruments of proof or as
fair game for attack, they suffered in the common and popular feeling
about them. Taken in a lump, and with little realising of all that they
were and implied, they furnished a cheap and tempting material for
"short and easy methods" on one side, and on the other side, as it is
obvious, a mark for just as easy and tempting objections. They became
trite. People got tired of hearing of them, and shy of urging them, and
dwelt in preference on other grounds of argument. The more serious
feeling and the more profound and original thought of the last half
century no longer seemed to give them the value and importance which
they had; on both sides a disposition was to be traced to turn aside
from them. The deeper religion and the deeper and more enterprising
science of the day combined to lower them from their old evidential
place. The one threw the moral stress on moral grounds of belief, and
seemed inclined to undervalue external proofs. The other more and more
yielded to its repugnance to admit the interruption of natural law, and
became more and more disinclined even to discuss the supernatural; and,
curiously enough, along with this there was in one remarkable school of
religious philosophy an increased readiness to believe in miracles as
such, without apparently caring much for them as proofs. Of late,
indeed, things have taken a different turn. The critical importance of
miracles, after for a time having fallen out of prominence behind other
questions, has once more made itself felt. Recent controversy has
forced them again on men's thoughts, and has made us see that, whether
they are accepted or denied, it is idle to ignore them. They mean too
much to be evaded. Like all powerful arguments they cut two ways, and
of all powerful arguments they are the most clearly two-edged. However
we may limit their range, some will remain which we must face; which,
according to what is settled about them, either that they are true or
not true, will entirely change all that we think of religion. Writers
on all sides have begun to be sensible that a decisive point requires
their attention, and that its having suffered from an old-fashioned way
of handling is no reason why it should not on its own merits engage
afresh the interest of serious men, to whom it is certainly of
consequence.

The renewed attention of theological writers to the subject of miracles
as an element of proof has led to some important discussions upon it,
showing in their treatment of a well-worn inquiry that a change in the
way of conducting it had become necessary. Of these productions we may
place Mr. Mozley's _Bampton Lectures_ for last year among the most
original and powerful. They are an example, and a very fine one, of a
mode of theological writing which is characteristic of the Church of
England, and almost peculiar to it. The distinguishing features of it
are a combination of intense seriousness with a self-restrained, severe
calmness, and of very vigorous and wide-ranging reasoning on the
realities of the case with the least amount of care about artificial
symmetry or scholastic completeness. Admirers of the Roman style call
it cold, indefinite, wanting in dogmatic coherence, comprehensiveness,
and grandeur. Admirers of the German style find little to praise in a
cautious bit-by-bit method, content with the tests which have most
affinity with common sense, incredulous of exhaustive theories, leaving
a large margin for the unaccountable or the unexplained. But it has its
merits, one of them being that, dealing very solidly and very acutely
with large and real matters of experience, the interest of such
writings endures as the starting-point and foundation for future work.
Butler out of England is hardly known, certainly he is not much valued
either as a divine or a philosopher; but in England, though we
criticise him freely, it will be a long time before he is out of date.
Mr. Mozley's book belongs to that class of writings of which Butler may
be taken as the type. It is strong, genuine argument about difficult
matters, fairly facing what _is_ difficult, fairly trying to grapple,
not with what _appears_ the gist and strong point of a question, but
with what really and at bottom _is_ the knot of it. It is a book the
reasoning of which may not satisfy every one; but it is a book in which
there is nothing plausible, nothing put in to escape the trouble of
thinking out what really comes across the writer's path. This will not
recommend it to readers who themselves are not fond of trouble; a book
of hard thinking cannot be a book of easy reading; nor is it a book for
people to go to who only want available arguments, or to see a question
apparently settled in a convenient way. But we think it is a book for
people who wish to see a great subject handled on a scale which befits
it and with a perception of its real elements. It is a book which will
have attractions for those who like to see a powerful mind applying
itself without shrinking or holding back, without trick or reserve or
show of any kind, as a wrestler closes body to body with his
antagonist, to the strength of an adverse and powerful argument. A
stern self-constraint excludes everything exclamatory, all glimpses and
disclosures of what merely affects the writer, all advantages from an
appeal, disguised and indirect perhaps, to the opinion of his own side.
But though the work is not rhetorical, it is not the less eloquent; but
it is eloquence arising from a keen insight at once into what is real
and what is great, and from a singular power of luminous, noble, and
expressive statement. There is no excitement about its close subtle
trains of reasoning; and there is no affectation,--and therefore no
affectation of impartiality. The writer has his conclusions, and he
does not pretend to hold a balance between them and their opposites.
But in the presence of such a subject he never loses sight of its
greatness, its difficulty, its eventfulness; and these thoughts make
him throughout his undertaking circumspect, considerate, and calm.

The point of view from which the subject of miracles is looked at in
these Lectures is thus stated in the preface. It is plain that two
great questions arise--first, Are miracles possible? next, If they are,
can any in fact be proved? These two branches of the inquiry involve
different classes of considerations. The first is purely philosophical,
and stops the inquiry at once if it can be settled in the negative. The
other calls in also the aid of history and criticism. Both questions
have been followed out of late with great keenness and interest, but it
is the first which at present assumes an importance which it never had
before, with its tremendous negative answer, revolutionising not only
the past, but the whole future of mankind; and it is to the first that
Mr. Mozley's work is mainly addressed.

    The difficulty which attaches to miracles in the period of thought
    through which we are now passing is one which is concerned not
    with their evidence, but with their intrinsic credibility. There
    has arisen in a certain class of minds an apparent perception of
    the impossibility of suspensions of physical law. This is one
    peculiarity of the time; another is a disposition to maintain the
    disbelief of miracles upon a religious basis, and in a connection
    with a declared belief in the Christian revelation.

    The following Lectures, therefore, are addressed mainly to the
    fundamental question of the credibility of Miracles, their use and
    the evidences of them being only touched on subordinately and
    collaterally. It was thought that such an aim, though in itself a
    narrow and confined one, was most adapted to the particular need
    of the day.

As Mr. Mozley says, various points essential to the whole argument,
such as testimony, and the criterion between true and false miracles,
are touched upon; but what is characteristic of the work is the way in
which it deals with the antecedent objection to the possibility and
credibility of miracles. It is on this part of the subject that the
writer strikes out a line for himself, and puts forth his strength. His
argument may be described generally as a plea for reason against
imagination and the broad impressions of custom. Experience, such
experience as we have of the world and human life, has, in all ages,
been really the mould of human thought, and with large exceptions, the
main unconscious guide and controller of human belief; and in our own
times it has been formally and scientifically recognised as such, and
made the exclusive foundation of all possible philosophy. A philosophy
of mere experience is not tolerant of miracles; its doctrines exclude
them; but, what is of even greater force than its doctrines, the subtle
and penetrating atmosphere of feeling and intellectual habits which
accompanies it is essentially uncongenial and hostile to them. It is
against the undue influence of such results of experience--an influence
openly acting in distinct ideas and arguments, but of which the greater
portion operates blindly, insensibly, and out of sight--that Mr. Mozley
makes a stand on behalf of reason, to which it belongs in the last
resort to judge of the lessons of experience. Reason, as it cannot
create experience, so it cannot take its place and be its substitute;
but what reason can do is to say within what limits experience is
paramount as a teacher; and reason abdicates its functions if it
declines to do so, for it was given us to work upon and turn to account
the unmeaning and brute materials which experience gives us in the
rough. The antecedent objection against miracles is, he says, one of
experience, but not one of reason. And experience, flowing over its
boundaries tyrannically and effacing its limits, is as dangerous to
truth and knowledge as reason once was, when it owned no check in
nature, and used no test but itself.

Mr. Mozley begins by stating clearly the necessity for coming to a
decision on the question of miracles. It cannot remain one of the open
questions, at least of religion. There is, as has been said, a
disposition to pass by it, and to construct a religion without
miracles. The thing is conceivable. We can take what are as a matter of
fact the moral results of Christianity, and of that singular power with
which it has presided over the improvement of mankind, and alloying and
qualifying them with other elements, not on the face of the matter its
products, yet in many cases indirectly connected with its working, form
something which we may acknowledge as a rule of life, and which may
satisfy our inextinguishable longings after the unseen and eternal. It
is true that such a religion presupposes Christianity, to which it owes
its best and noblest features, and that, as far as we can see, it is
inconceivable if Christianity had not first been. Still, we may say
that alchemy preceded chemistry, and was not the more true for being
the step to what is true. But what we cannot say of such a religion is
that it takes the place of Christianity, and is such a religion as
Christianity has been and claims to be. There must ever be all the
difference in the world between a religion which is or professes to be
a revelation, and one which cannot be called such. For a revelation is
a direct work and message of God; but that which is the result of a
process and progress of rinding out the truth by the experience of
ages, or of correcting mistakes, laying aside superstitions and
gradually reducing the gross mass of belief to its essential truth, is
simply on a level with all other human knowledge, and, as it is about
the unseen, can never be verified. If there has been no revelation,
there may be religious hopes and misgivings, religious ideas or dreams,
religious anticipations and trust; but the truth is, there cannot be a
religion in the world. Much less can there be any such thing as
Christianity. It is only when we look at it vaguely in outline, without
having before our mind what it is in fact and in detail, that we can
allow ourselves to think so. There is no transmuting its refractory
elements into something which is not itself; and it is nothing if it is
not primarily a direct message from God. Limit as we may the manner of
this communication, still there remains what makes it different from
all other human possessions of truth, that it was a direct message. And
that, to whatever extent, involves all that is involved in the idea of
miracles. It is, as Mr. Mozley says, inconceivable without miracles.

    If, then, a person of evident integrity and loftiness of character
    rose into notice in a particular country and community eighteen
    centuries ago, who made these communications about himself--that
    he had existed before his natural birth, from all eternity, and
    before the world was, in a state of glory with God; that he was
    the only-begotten Son of God; that the world itself had been made
    by him; that he had, however, come down from heaven and assumed
    the form and nature of man for a particular purpose--viz. to be
    the Lamb of God that taketh away the sins of the world; that he
    thus stood in a mysterious and supernatural relation to the whole
    of mankind; that through him alone mankind had access to God; that
    he was the head of an invisible kingdom, into which he should
    gather all the generations of righteous men who had lived in the
    world; that on his departure from hence he should return to heaven
    to prepare mansions there for them; and, lastly, that he should
    descend again at the end of the world to judge the whole human
    race, on which occasion all that were in their graves should hear
    his voice and come forth, they that had done good unto the
    resurrection of life, and they that had done evil unto the
    resurrection of damnation,--if this person made these assertions
    about himself, and all that was done was to make the assertions,
    what would be the inevitable conclusion of sober reason respecting
    that person? The necessary conclusion of sober reason respecting
    that person would be that he was disordered in his understanding.
    What other decision could we come to when a man, looking like one
    of ourselves, and only exemplifying in his life and circumstances
    the ordinary course of nature, said this about himself, but that
    when reason had lost its balance a dream of extraordinary and
    unearthly grandeur might be the result? By no rational being could
    a just and benevolent life be accepted as proof of such
    astonishing announcements. Miracles are the necessary complement
    then of the truth of such announcements, which without them are
    purposeless and abortive, the unfinished fragments of a design
    which is nothing unless it is the whole. They are necessary to the
    justification of such announcements, which, indeed, unless they
    are supernatural truths, are the wildest delusions. The matter and
    its guarantee are the two parts of a revelation, the absence of
    either of which neutralises and undoes it.

A revelation, in any sense in which it is more than merely a result of
the natural progress of the human mind and the gradual clearing up of
mistakes, cannot in the nature of things be without miracles, because
it is not merely a discovery of ideas and rules of life, but of facts
undiscoverable without it. It involves _constituent_ miracles, to use
De Quincey's phrase, as part of its substance, and could not claim a
bearing without _evidential_ or _polemic_ ones. No other portion or
form of proof, however it may approve itself to the ideas of particular
periods or minds, can really make up for this. The alleged sinlessness
of the Teacher, the internal evidence from adaptation to human nature,
the historical argument of the development of Christendom, are, as Mr.
Mozley points out, by themselves inadequate, without that further
guarantee which is contained in miracles, to prove the Divine origin of
a religion. The tendency has been of late to fall back on these
attractive parts of the argument, which admit of such varied handling
and expression, and come home so naturally to the feelings of an age so
busy and so keen in pursuing the secrets of human character, and so
fascinated with its unfolding wonders. But take any of them, the
argument from results, for instance, perhaps the most powerful of them
all. "We cannot," as Mr. Mozley says, "rest too much upon it, so long
as we do not charge it with more of the burden of proof than it is in
its own nature equal to--viz. the whole. But that it cannot bear." The
hard, inevitable question remains at the end, for the most attenuated
belief in Christianity as a religion from God--what is the ultimate
link which connects it directly with God? The readiness with which we
throw ourselves on more congenial topics of proof does not show that,
even to our own minds, these proofs could suffice by themselves,
miracles being really taken away. The whole power of a complex argument
and the reasons why it tells do not always appear on its face. It does
not depend merely on what it states, but also on unexpressed,
unanalysed, perhaps unrealised grounds, the real force of which would
at once start forth if they were taken away. We are told of the obscure
rays of the spectrum, rays which have their proof and their effect,
only not the same proof and effect as the visible ones which they
accompany; and the background and latent suppositions of a great
argument are as essential to it as its more prominent and elaborate
constructions. And they show their importance sometimes in a remarkable
and embarrassing way, when, after a long debate, their presence at the
bottom of everything, unnoticed and perhaps unallowed for, is at length
disclosed by some obvious and decisive question, which some person had
been too careless to think of, and another too shy to ask. We may not
care to obtrude miracles; but take them away, and see what becomes of
the argument for Christianity.

    It must be remembered that when this part of Christian evidence
    comes so forcibly home to us, and creates that inward assurance
    which it does, it does this in connection with the proof of
    miracles in the background, which though it may not for the time
    be brought into actual view, is still known to be there, and to be
    ready for use upon being wanted. The _indirect_ proof from results
    has the greater force, and carries with it the deeper persuasion,
    because it is additional and auxiliary to the _direct_ proof
    behind it, upon which it leans all the time, though we may not
    distinctly notice and estimate this advantage. Were the evidence
    of moral result to be taken rigidly alone as the one single
    guarantee for a Divine revelation, it would then be seen that we
    had calculated its single strength too highly. If there is a
    species of evidence which is directly appropriate to the thing
    believed, we cannot suppose, on the strength of the indirect
    evidence we possess, that we can do without the direct. But
    miracles are the direct credentials of a revelation; the visible
    supernatural is the appropriate witness to the invisible
    supernatural--that proof which goes straight to the point, and, a
    token being wanted of a Divine communication, is that token. We
    cannot, therefore, dispense with this evidence. The position that
    the revelation proves the miracles, and not the miracles the
    revelation, admits of a good qualified meaning; but, taken
    literally, it is a double offence against the rule that things are
    properly proved by the proper proof of them; for a supernatural
    fact _is_ the proper proof of a supernatural doctrine, while a
    supernatural doctrine, on the other hand, is certainly _not_ the
    proper proof of a supernatural fact.

So that, whatever comes of the inquiry, miracles and revelation must go
together. There is no separating them. Christianity may claim in them
the one decisive proof that could be given of its Divine origin and the
truth of its creed; but, at any rate, it must ever be responsible for
them.

    But suppose a person to say, and to say with truth, that his own
    individual faith does not rest upon miracles, is he, therefore,
    released from the defence of miracles? Is the question of their
    truth or falsehood an irrelevant one to him? Is his faith secure
    if they are disproved? By no means; if miracles were, although
    only at the commencement, necessary to Christianity, and were
    actually wrought, and therefore form part of the Gospel record and
    are bound up with the Gospel scheme and doctrines, this part of
    the structure cannot be abandoned without the sacrifice of the
    other too. To shake the authority of one-half of this body of
    statement is to shake the authority of the whole. Whether or not
    the individual makes _use_ of them for the support of his own
    faith, the miracles are there; and if they are there they must be
    there either as true miracles or as false ones. If he does not
    avail himself of their evidence, his belief is still affected by
    their refutation. Accepting, as he does, the supernatural truths
    of Christianity and its miracles upon the same report from the
    same witnesses, upon the authority of the same documents, he
    cannot help having at any rate this negative interest in them. For
    if those witnesses and documents deceive us with regard to the
    miracles, how can we trust them with regard to the doctrines? If
    they are wrong upon the evidences of a revelation, how can we
    depend upon their being right as to the nature of that revelation?
    If their account of visible facts is to be received with an
    explanation, is not their account of doctrines liable to a like
    explanation? Revelation, then, even if it does not need the truth
    of miracles for the benefit of their proof, still requires it in
    order not to be crushed under the weight of their falsehood....
    Thus miracles and the supernatural contents of Christianity must
    stand or fall together. These two questions--the _nature_ of the
    revelation, and the _evidence_ of the revelation--cannot be
    disjoined. Christianity as a dispensation undiscoverable by human
    reason, and Christianity as a dispensation authenticated by
    miracles--these two are in necessary combination. If any do not
    include the supernatural character of Christianity in their
    definition of it, regarding the former only as one interpretation
    of it or one particular traditional form of it, which is separable
    from the essence--for Christianity as thus defined the support of
    miracles is not wanted, because the moral truths are their own
    evidence. But Christianity cannot be maintained as a revelation
    undiscoverable by human reason, a revelation of a supernatural
    scheme for man's salvation, without the evidence of miracles.

The question of miracles, then, of the supernatural disclosed in the
world of nature, is the vital point for everything that calls itself
Christianity. It may be forgotten or disguised; but it is vain to keep
it back and put it out of sight. It must be answered; and if we settle
it that miracles are incredible, it is idle to waste our time about
accommodations with Christianity, or reconstitutions of it. Let us be
thankful for what it has done for the world; but let us put it away,
both name and thing. It is an attempt after what is in the nature of
things impossible to man--a revealed religion, authenticated by God.
The shape which this negative answer takes is, as Mr. Mozley points
out, much more definite now than it ever was. Miracles were formerly
assailed and disbelieved on mixed and often confused grounds; from
alleged defect of evidence, from their strangeness, or because they
would be laughed at. Foes and defenders looked at them from the outside
and in the gross; and perhaps some of those who defended them most
keenly had a very imperfect sense of what they really were. The
difficulty of accepting them now arises not mainly from want of
external evidence, but from having more keenly realised what it is to
believe a miracle. As Mr. Mozley says--

    How is it that sometimes when the same facts and truths have been
    before men all their lives, and produced but one impression, a
    moment comes when they look different from what they did? Some
    minds may abandon, while others retain, their fundamental position
    with respect to those facts and truths, but to both they look
    stranger; they excite a certain surprise which they did not once
    do. The reasons of this change then it is not always easy for the
    persons themselves to trace, but of the result they are conscious;
    and in some this result is a change of belief.

    An inward process of this kind has been going on recently in many
    minds on the subject of miracles; and in some with the latter
    result. When it came to the question--which every one must sooner
    or later put to himself on this subject--Did these things really
    take place? Are they matters of fact?--they have appeared to
    themselves to be brought to a standstill, and to be obliged to own
    an inner refusal of their whole reason to admit them among the
    actual events of the past. This strong repugnance seemed to be the
    witness of its own truth, to be accompanied by a clear and vivid
    light, to be a law to the understanding, and to rule without
    appeal the question of fact.... But when the reality of the past
    is once apprehended and embraced, then the miraculous occurrences
    in it are realised too; being realised they excite surprise, and
    surprise, when it comes in, takes two directions--it either makes
    belief more real, or it destroys belief. There is an element of
    doubt in surprise; for this emotion arises _because_ an event is
    strange, and an event is strange because it goes counter to and
    jars with presumption. Shall surprise, then, give life to belief
    or stimulus to doubt? The road of belief and unbelief in the
    history of some minds thus partly lies over common ground; the two
    go part of their journey together; they have a common perception
    in the insight into the real astonishing nature of the facts with
    which they deal. The majority of mankind, perhaps, owe their
    belief rather to the outward influence of custom and education
    than to any strong principle of faith within; and it is to be
    feared that many, if they came to perceive how wonderful what they
    believed was, would not find their belief so easy and so
    matter-of-course a thing as they appear to find it. Custom throws
    a film over the great facts of religion, and interposes a veil
    between the mind and truth, which, by preventing wonder,
    intercepts doubt too, and at the same time excludes from deep
    belief and protects from disbelief. But deeper faith and disbelief
    throw off in common the dependence on mere custom, draw aside the
    interposing veil, place themselves face to face with the contents
    of the past, and expose themselves alike to the ordeal of wonder.

    It is evident that the effect which the visible order of nature
    has upon some minds is, that as soon as they realise what a
    miracle is, they are stopped by what appears to them a simple
    sense of its impossibility. So long as they only believe by habit
    and education, they accept a miracle without difficulty, because
    they do not realise it as an event which actually took place in
    the world; the alteration of the face of the world, and the whole
    growth of intervening history, throw the miracles of the Gospel
    into a remote perspective in which they are rather seen as a
    picture than real occurrences. But as soon as they see that, if
    these miracles are true, they once really happened, what they feel
    then is the apparent sense of their impossibility. It is not a
    question of evidence with them: when they realise, e.g., that
    our Lord's resurrection, if true, was a visible fact or
    occurrence, they have the seeming certain perception that it is an
    impossible occurrence. "I cannot," a person says to himself in
    effect, "tear myself from the type of experience and join myself
    to another. I cannot quit order and law for what is eccentric.
    There is a repulsion between such facts and my belief as strong as
    that between physical substances. In the mere effort to conceive
    these amazing scenes as real ones, I fall back upon myself and
    upon that type of reality which the order of nature has impressed
    upon me."

The antagonism to the idea of miracles has grown stronger and more
definite with the enlarged and more widely-spread conception of
invariable natural law, and also, as Mr. Mozley points out, with that
increased power in our time of realising the past, which is not the
peculiarity of individual writers, but is "part of the thought of the
time." But though it has been quickened and sharpened by these
influences, it rests ultimately on that sense which all men have in
common of the customary and regular in their experience of the world.
The world, which we all know, stands alone, cut off from any other; and
a miracle is an intrusion, "an interpolation of one order of things
into another, confounding two systems which are perfectly distinct."
The broad, deep resistance to it which is awakened in the mind when we
look abroad on the face of nature is expressed in Emerson's phrase--"A
miracle is a monster. It is not one with the blowing clouds or the
falling rain." Who can dispute it? Yet the rejoinder is obvious, and
has often been given--that neither is man. Man, who looks at nature and
thinks and feels about its unconscious unfeeling order; man, with his
temptations, his glory, and his shame, his heights of goodness, and
depths of infamy, is not one with those innocent and soulless forces so
sternly immutable--"the blowing clouds and falling rain." The two awful
phenomena which Kant said struck him dumb--the starry heavens, and
right and wrong--are vainly to be reduced to the same order of things.
Nothing can be stranger than the contrast between the rigid, inevitable
sequences of nature, apparently so elastic only because not yet
perfectly comprehended, and the consciousness of man in the midst of
it. Nothing can be stranger than the juxtaposition of physical law and
man's sense of responsibility and choice. Man is an "insertion," an
"interpolation in the physical system"; he is "insulated as an anomaly
in the midst of matter and material law." Mr. Mozley's words are
striking:--

    The first appearance, then, of man in nature was the appearance of
    a new being in nature; and this fact was relatively to the then
    order of things miraculous; no more physical account can be given
    of it than could be given of a resurrection to life now. What more
    entirely new and eccentric fact, indeed, can be imagined than a
    human soul first rising up amidst an animal and vegetable world?
    Mere consciousness--was not that of itself a new world within the
    old one? Mere knowledge--that nature herself became known to a
    being within herself, was not that the same? Certainly man was not
    all at once the skilled interpreter of nature, and yet there is
    some interpretation of nature to which man as such is equal in
    some degree. He derives an impression from the sight of nature
    which an animal does not derive; for though the material spectacle
    is imprinted on its retina, as it is on man's, it does not see
    what man sees. The sun rose, then, and the sun descended, the
    stars looked down upon the earth, the mountains climbed to heaven,
    the cliffs stood upon the shore, the same as now, countless ages
    before a single being existed who _saw_ it. The counterpart of
    this whole scene was wanting--the understanding mind; that mirror
    in which the whole was to be reflected; and when this arose it was
    a new birth for creation itself, that it became _known_,--an image
    in the mind of a conscious being. But even consciousness and
    knowledge were a less strange and miraculous introduction into the
    world than conscience.

    Thus wholly mysterious in his entrance into this scene, man is
    _now_ an insulation in it; he came in by no physical law, and his
    freewill is in utter contrast to that law. What can be more
    incomprehensible, more heterogeneous, a more ghostly resident in
    nature, than the sense of right and wrong? What is it? Whence is
    it? The obligation of man to sacrifice himself for right is a
    truth which springs out of an abyss, the mere attempt to look down
    into which confuses the reason. Such is the juxtaposition of
    mysterious and physical contents in the same system. Man is alone,
    then, in nature: he alone of all the creatures communes with a
    Being out of nature; and he divides himself from all other
    physical life by prophesying, in the face of universal visible
    decay, his own immortality.

And till this anomaly has been removed--that is, till the last trace of
what is moral in man has disappeared under the analysis of science, and
what ought to be is resolved into a mere aspect of what is, this deep
exception to the dominion of physical law remains as prominent and
undeniable as physical law itself.

    It is, indeed, avowed by those who reduce man in nature, that upon
    the admission of free-will, the objection to the miraculous is over,
    and that it is absurd to allow exception to law in man, and reject
    it in nature.

But the broad, popular sense of natural order, and the instinctive and
common repugnance to a palpable violation of it, have been forged and
refined into the philosophical objection to miracles. Two great
thinkers of past generations, two of the keenest and clearest
intellects which have appeared since the Reformation, laid the
foundations of it long ago. Spinoza urged the uselessness of miracles,
and Hume their incredibility, with a guarded subtlety and longsighted
refinement of statement which made them in advance of their age except
with a few. But their reflections have fallen in with a more advanced
stage of thought and a taste for increased precision and exactness, and
they are beginning to bear their fruit. The great and telling objection
to miracles is getting to be, not their want of evidence, but, prior to
all question of evidence, the supposed impossibility of fitting them in
with a scientific view of nature. Reason, looking at nature and
experience, is said to raise an antecedent obstacle to them which no
alleged proof of fact can get over. They cannot be, because they are so
unlike to everything else in the world, even of the strangest kind, in
this point--in avowedly breaking the order of nature. And reason cannot
be admitted to take cognizance of their claims and to consider their
character, their purpose, their results, their credentials, because the
mere supposition of them violates the fundamental conception and
condition of science, absolute and invariable law, as well as that
common-sense persuasion which everybody has, whether philosopher or
not, of the uniformity of the order of the world.


II

To make room for reason to come in and pronounce upon miracles on their
own merits--to clear the ground for the consideration of their actual
claims by disposing of the antecedent objection of impossibility, is
Mr. Mozley's main object.

    Whatever difficulty there is in believing in miracles in general
    arises from the circumstance that they are in contradiction to or
    unlike the order of nature. To estimate the force of this
    difficulty, then, we must first understand what kind of belief it
    is which we have in the order of nature; for the weight of the
    objection to the miraculous must depend on the nature of the
    belief to which the miraculous is opposed.

His examination of the alleged impossibility of miracles may be
described as a very subtle turning the tables on Hume and the empirical
philosophy. For when it is said that it is contrary to reason to
believe in a suspension of the order of nature, he asks on what ground
do we believe in the order of nature; and Hume himself supplies the
answer. There is nothing of which we have a firmer persuasion. It is
the basis of human life and knowledge. We assume at each step, without
a doubt, that the future will be like the past. But why? Hume has
carefully examined the question, and can find no answer, except the
fact that we do assume it. "I apprehend," says Mr. Mozley, accepting
Hume's view of the nature of probability, "that when we examine the
different reasons which may be assigned for this connection, i.e. for
the belief that the future will be like the past, they all come at last
to be mere statements of the belief itself, and not reasons to account
for it."

    Let us imagine the occurrence of a particular physical phenomenon
    for the first time. Upon that single occurrence we should have but
    the very faintest expectation of another. If it did occur again
    once or twice, so far from counting on another recurrence, a
    cessation would come as the more natural event to us. But let it
    occur a hundred times, and we should feel no hesitation in
    inviting persons from a distance to see it; and if it occurred
    every day for years, its recurrence would then be a certainty to
    us, its cessation a marvel. But what has taken place in the
    interim to produce this total change in our belief? From the mere
    repetition do we know anything more about its cause? No. Then what
    have we got besides the past repetition itself? Nothing. Why,
    then, are we so certain of its _future_ repetition? All we can say
    is that the known casts its shadow before; we project into unborn
    time the existing types, and the secret skill of nature intercepts
    the darkness of the future by ever suspending before our eyes, as
    it were in a mirror, a reflection of the past. We really look at a
    blank before us, but the mind, full of the scene behind, sees it
    again in front....

    What ground of reason, then, can we assign for our expectation
    that any part of the course of nature will the _next_ moment be
    like what it has been up to _this_ moment, i.e. for our belief
    in the uniformity of nature? None. No demonstrative reason can be
    given, for the contrary to the recurrence of a fact of nature is
    no contradiction. No probable reason can be given, for all
    probable reasoning respecting the course of nature is founded
    _upon_ this presumption of likeness, and therefore cannot be the
    foundation of it. No reason can be given for this belief. It is
    without a reason. It rests upon no rational ground and can be
    traced to no rational principle. Everything connected with human
    life depends upon this belief, every practical plan or purpose
    that we form implies it, every provision we make for the future,
    every safeguard and caution we employ against it, all calculation,
    all adjustment of means to ends, supposes this belief; it is this
    principle alone which renders our experience of the slightest use
    to us, and without it there would be, so far as we are concerned,
    no order of nature and no laws of nature; and yet this belief has
    no more producible reason for it than a speculation of fancy. A
    natural fact has been repeated; it will be repeated:--I am
    conscious of utter darkness when I try to see why one of these
    follows from the other: I not only see no reason, but I perceive
    that I see none, though I can no more help the expectation than I
    can stop the circulation of my blood. There is a premiss, and
    there is a conclusion, but there is a total want of connection
    between the two. The inference, then, from the one of these to the
    other rests upon no ground of the understanding; by no search or
    analysis, however subtle or minute, can we extract from any corner
    of the human mind and intelligence, however remote, the very
    faintest reason for it.

Hume, who had urged with great force that miracles were contrary to
that probability which is created by experience, had also said that
this probability had no producible ground in reason; that, universal,
unfailing, indispensable as it was to the course of human life, it was
but an instinct which defied analysis, a process of thought and
inference for which he vainly sought the rational steps. There is no
absurdity, though the greatest impossibility, in supposing this order
to stop to-morrow; and, if the world ends at all, its end will be in an
increasing degree improbable up to the very last moment. But, if this
whole ground of belief is in its own nature avowedly instinctive and
independent of reason, what right has it to raise up a bar of
intellectual necessity, and to shut out reason from entertaining the
question of miracles? They may have grounds which appeal to reason; and
an unintelligent instinct forbids reason from fairly considering what
they are. Reason cannot get beyond the actual fact of the present state
of things for believing in the order of nature; it professes to find no
necessity for it; the interruption of that order, therefore, whether
probable or not, is not against reason. Philosophy itself, says Mr.
Mozley, cuts away the ground on which it had raised its preliminary
objection to miracles.

    And now the belief in the order of nature being thus, however
    powerful and useful, an unintelligent impulse of which we can give
    no rational account, in what way does this discovery affect the
    question of miracles? In this way, that this belief not having
    itself its foundation in reason, the ground is gone upon which it
    could be maintained that miracles as opposed to the order of
    nature were opposed to reason. There being no producible reason
    why a new event should be like the hitherto course of nature, no
    decision of reason is contradicted by its unlikeness. A miracle,
    in being opposed to our experience, is not only not opposed to
    necessary reasoning, but to any reasoning. Do I see by a certain
    perception the connection between these two--It _has_ happened so,
    it _will_ happen so; then may I reject a new reported fact which
    has _not_ happened so as an impossibility. But if I do not see the
    connection between these two by a certain perception, or by any
    perception, I cannot. For a miracle to be rejected as such, there
    must, at any rate, be some proposition in the mind of man which is
    opposed to it; and that proposition can only spring from the
    quarter to which we have been referring--that of elementary
    experimental reasoning. But if this experimental reasoning is of
    that nature which philosophy describes it as being of, i.e. if
    it is not itself a process of reason, how can there from an
    irrational process of the mind arise a proposition at all,--to
    make which is the function of the rational faculty alone? There
    cannot; and it is evident that the miraculous does not stand in
    any opposition whatever to reason....

    Thus step by step has philosophy loosened the connection of the
    order of nature with the ground of reason, befriending, in exact
    proportion as it has done this, the principle of miracles. In the
    argument against miracles the first objection is that they are
    against _law_; and this is answered by saying that we know nothing
    in nature of law in the sense in which it prevents miracles. Law
    can only prevent miracles by _compelling_ and making necessary the
    succession of nature, i.e. in the sense of causation; but
    science has itself proclaimed the truth that we see no causes in
    nature, that the whole chain of physical succession is to the eye
    of reason a rope of sand, consisting of antecedents and
    consequents, but without a rational link or trace of necessary
    connection between them. We only know of law in nature in the
    sense of recurrences in nature, classes of facts, _like_ facts in
    nature--a chain of which, the junction not being reducible to
    reason, the interruption is not against reason. The claim of law
    settled, the next objection in the argument against miracles is
    that they are against _experience_; because we expect facts _like_
    to those of our experience, and miracles are _unlike_ ones. The
    weight, then, of the objection of unlikeness to experience depends
    on the reason which can be produced for the expectation of
    likeness; and to this call philosophy has replied by the summary
    confession that we have _no_ reason. Philosophy, then, could not
    have overthrown more thoroughly than it has done the order of
    nature as a necessary course of things, or cleared the ground more
    effectually for the principle of miracles.

Nor, he argues, does this instinct change its nature, or become a
necessary law of reason, when it takes the form of an inference from
induction. For the last step of the inductive process, the creation of
its supposed universal, is, when compared with the real standard of
universality acknowledged by reason, an incomplete and more or less
precarious process; "it gets out of facts something more than what they
actually contain"; and it can give no reason for itself but what the
common faith derived from experience can give, the anticipation of
uniform recurrence. "The inductive principle," he says, "is only the
unreasoning impulse applied to a scientifically ascertained fact,
instead of to a vulgarly ascertained fact.... Science has led up to the
fact, but there it stops, and for converting the fact into a law a
totally unscientific principle comes in, the same as that which
generalises the commonest observations in nature."

    The scientific part of induction being only the pursuit of a
    particular fact, miracles cannot in the nature of the case receive
    any blow from the scientific part of induction; because the
    existence of one fact does not interfere with the existence of
    another dissimilar fact. That which _does_ resist the miraculous
    is the _un_scientific part of induction, or the instinctive
    generalisation upon this fact.... It does not belong to this
    principle to lay down speculative positions, and to say what can
    or cannot take place in the world. It does not belong to it to
    control religious belief, or to determine that certain acts of God
    for the revelation of His will to man, reported to have taken
    place, have not taken place. Such decisions are totally out of its
    sphere; it can assert the universal as a _law_, but the universal
    as a law and the universal as a proposition are wholly distinct.
    The one asserts the universal as a fact, the other as a
    presumption; the one as an absolute certainty, the other as a
    practical certainty, when there is no reason to expect the
    contrary. The one contains and includes the particular, the other
    does not; from the one we argue mathematically to the falsehood of
    any opposite particular; from the other we do not.... For example,
    one signal miracle, pre-eminent for its grandeur, crowned the
    evidence of the supernatural character and office of our Lord--our
    Lord's ascension--His going up with His body of flesh and bones
    into the sky in the presence of His disciples. "He lifted up His
    hands, and blessed them. And while He blessed them, He was parted
    from them, and carried up into heaven. And they looked stedfastly
    toward heaven as He went up, and a cloud received Him out of their
    sight."

    Here is an amazing scene, which strikes even the devout believer,
    coming across it in the sacred page suddenly or by chance, amid
    the routine of life, with a fresh surprise. Did, then, this event
    really take place? Or is the evidence of it forestalled by the
    inductive principle compelling us to remove the scene _as such_
    out of the category of matters of fact? The answer is, that the
    inductive principle is in its own nature only an _expectation_;
    and that the expectation, that what is unlike our experience will
    not happen, is quite consistent with its occurrence in fact. This
    principle does not pretend to decide the question of fact, which
    is wholly out of its province and beyond its function. It can only
    decide the fact by the medium of a universal; the universal
    proposition that no man has ascended to heaven. But this is a
    statement which exceeds its power; it is as radically incompetent
    to pronounce it as the taste or smell is to decide on matters of
    sight; its function is practical, not logical. No antecedent
    statement, then, which touches my belief in this scene, is allowed
    by the laws of thought. Converted indeed into a universal
    proposition, the inductive principle is omnipotent, and totally
    annihilates every particular which does not come within its range.
    The universal statement that no man has ascended into heaven
    absolutely falsifies the fact that One Man has. But, thus
    transmuted, the inductive principle issues out of this
    metamorphose, a fiction not a truth; a weapon of air, which even
    in the hands of a giant can inflict no blow because it is itself a
    shadow. The object of assault receives the unsubstantial thrust
    without a shock, only exposing the want of solidity in the
    implement of war. The battle against the supernatural has been
    going on long, and strong men have conducted it, and are
    conducting it--but what they want is a weapon. The logic of
    unbelief wants a universal. But no real universal is forthcoming,
    and it only wastes its strength in wielding a fictitious one.

It is not in reason, which refuses to pronounce upon the possible
merely from experience of the actual, that the antecedent objection to
miracles is rooted. Yet that the objection is a powerful one the
consciousness of every reflecting mind testifies. What, then, is the
secret of its force? In a lecture of singular power Mr. Mozley gives
his answer. What tells beforehand against miracles is not reason, but
imagination. Imagination is often thought to favour especially the
supernatural and miraculous. It does do so, no doubt. But the truth is,
that imagination tells both ways--as much against the miraculous as for
it. The imagination, that faculty by which we give life and body and
reality to our intellectual conceptions, takes its character from the
intellectual conceptions with which it is habitually associated. It
accepts the miraculous or shrinks from it and throws it off, according
to the leaning of the mind of which it is the more vivid and, so to
speak, passionate expression. And as it may easily exaggerate on one
side, so it may just as easily do the same on the other. Every one is
familiar with that imaginative exaggeration which fills the world with
miracles. But there is another form of imagination, not so distinctly
recognised, which is oppressed by the presence of unchanging succession
and visible uniformity, which cannot shake off the yoke of custom or
allow anything different to seem to it real. The sensitiveness and
impressibility of the imagination are affected, and unhealthily
affected, not merely by strangeness, but by sameness; to one as to the
other it may "passively submit and surrender itself, give way to the
mere form of attraction, and, instead of grasping something else, be
itself grasped and mastered by some dominant idea." And it is then, in
one case as much as in the other, "not a power, but a failing and
weakness of nature."

    The passive imagination, then, in the present case exaggerates a
    practical expectation of the uniformity of nature, implanted in us
    for practical ends, into a scientific or universal proposition;
    and it does this by surrendering itself to the impression produced
    by the constant spectacle of the regularity of visible nature. By
    such a course a person allows the weight and pressure of this idea
    to grow upon him till it reaches the point of actually restricting
    his sense of possibility to the mould of physical order.... The
    order of nature thus stamps upon some minds the idea of its
    immutability simply by its repetition. The imagination we usually
    indeed associate with the acceptance of the supernatural rather
    than with the denial of it; but the passive imagination is in
    truth neutral; it only increases the force and tightens the hold
    of any impression upon us, to whatever class the impression may
    belong, and surrenders itself to a superstitious or a physical
    idea, as it may be. Materialism itself is the result of
    imagination, which is so impressed by matter that it cannot
    realise the existence of spirit.

The great opponent, then, of miracles, considered as possible
occurrences, is not reason, but something which on other great subjects
is continually found on the opposite side to reason, resisting and
counteracting it; that powerful overbearing sense of the actual and the
real, which when it is opposed by reason is apt to make reason seem
like the creator of mere ideal theories; which gives to arguments
implying a different condition of things from one which is familiar to
present experience the disadvantage of appearing like artificial and
unsubstantial refinements of thought, such as, to the uncultivated
mind, appear not merely metaphysical discussions, but what are known to
be the most certain reasonings of physical and mathematical science. It
is that measure of the probable, impressed upon us by the spectacle; to
which we are accustomed all our lives long, of things as we find them,
and which repels the possibility of a break or variation; that sense of
probability which the keenest of philosophers declares to be incapable
of rational analysis, and pronounces allied to irrational portions of
our constitution, like custom, and the effect of time, and which is
just as much an enemy to invention, to improvement, to a different
state of things in the future, as it is to the belief and realising of
a different state of things in the past. The antecedent objection to
the miraculous is not reason, but an argument which limits and narrows
the domain of reason; which excludes dry, abstract, passionless
reason--with its appeals to considerations remote from common
experience, its demands for severe reflection, its balancing and long
chains of thought--from pronouncing on what seems to belong to the
flesh and blood realities of life as we know it. Against this
tyrannical influence, which may be in a vulgar and popular as in a
scientific form, which may be the dull result of habit or the more
specious effect of a sensitive and receptive imagination, but which in
all cases is at bottom the same, Mr. Mozley claims to appeal to
reason:--

    To conclude, then, let us suppose an intelligent Christian of the
    present day asked, not what evidence he has of miracles, but how
    he can antecedently to all evidence think such amazing occurrences
    _possible_, he would reply, "You refer me to a certain sense of
    impossibility which you suppose me to possess, applying not to
    mathematics but to facts. Now, on this head, I am conscious of a
    certain natural resistance in my mind to events unlike the order
    of nature. But I resist many things which I know to be certain:
    infinity of space, infinity of time, eternity past, eternity
    future, the very idea of a God and another world. If I take mere
    resistance, therefore, for denial, I am confined in every quarter
    of my mind; I cannot carry out the very laws of reason, I am
    placed under conditions which are obviously false. I conclude,
    therefore, that I may resist and believe at the same time. If
    Providence has implanted in me a certain expectation of uniformity
    or likeness in nature, there is implied in that very expectations
    resistance to an _un_like event, which resistance does not cease
    even when upon evidence I _believe_ the event, but goes on as a
    mechanical impression, though the reason counterbalances it.
    Resistance, therefore, is not disbelief, unless by an act of my
    own reason I _give_ it an absolute veto, which I do _not_ do. My
    reason is clear upon the point, that there is no disagreement
    between itself and a miracle as such." ... Nor is it dealing
    artificially with ourselves to exert a force upon our minds
    against the false certainty of the resisting imagination--such a
    force as is necessary to enable reason to stand its ground, and
    bend back again that spring of impression against the miraculous
    which has illegally tightened itself into a law to the
    understanding. Reason does not always prevail spontaneously and
    without effort even in questions of belief; so far from it, that
    the question of faith against reason may often be more properly
    termed the question of reason against imagination. It does not
    seldom require faith to believe reason, isolated as she may be
    amid vast irrational influences, the weight of custom, the power
    of association, the strength of passion, the _vis inertiae_ of
    sense, the mere force of the uniformity of nature as a
    spectacle--those influences which make up that power of the world
    which Scripture always speaks of as the antagonist of faith.

The antecedent questions about miracles, before coming to the question
of the actual evidence of any, are questions about which reason--reason
disengaged and disembarrassed from the arbitrary veto of
experience--has a right to give its verdict. Miracles presuppose the
existence of God, and it is from reason alone that we get the idea of
God; and the antecedent question then is, whether they are really
compatible with the idea of God which reason gives us. Mr. Mozley
remarks that the question of miracles is really "shut up in the
enclosure of one assumption, that of the existence of God"; and that if
we believe in a personal Deity with all power over nature, that belief
brings along with it the possibility of His interrupting natural order
for His own purposes. He also bids us observe that the idea of God
which reason gives us is exposed to resistance of the same kind, and
from precisely the same forces, in our mental constitution, as the idea
of miracles. When reason has finished its overwhelming proof, still
there is a step to be taken before the mind embraces the equally
overwhelming conclusion--a step which calls for a distinct effort,
which obliges the mind, satisfied as it may be, to beat back the
counteracting pressure of what is visible and customary. After
reason--not opposed to it or independent of it, but growing out of it,
yet a distinct and further movement--comes faith. This is the case, not
specially in religion, but in all subjects, where the conclusions of
reason cannot be subjected to immediate verification. How often, as he
observes, do we see persons "who, when they are in possession of the
best arguments, and what is more, understand those arguments, are still
shaken by almost any opposition, because they want the faculty to
_trust_ an argument when they have got one."

    Not, however, that the existence of a God is so clearly seen by
    reason as to dispense with faith; not from any want of cogency in
    the reasons, but from the amazing nature of the conclusion--that
    it is so unparalleled, transcendent, and inconceivable a truth to
    believe. It requires trust to commit oneself to the conclusion of
    any reasoning, however strong, when such as this is the
    conclusion: to put enough dependence and reliance upon any
    premisses, to accept upon the strength of them so immense a
    result. The issue of the argument is so astonishing that if we do
    not tremble for its safety, it must be on account of a practical
    principle in our minds which enables us to _confide_ and trust in
    reasons, when they are really strong and good ones.... Faith, when
    for convenience' sake we do distinguish it from reason, is not
    distinguished from reason by the want of premisses, but by the
    nature of the conclusions. Are our conclusions of the customary
    type? Then custom imparts the full sense of security. Are they not
    of the customary, but of a strange and unknown type? Then the
    mechanical sense of security is wanting, and a certain trust is
    required for reposing in them, which we call faith. But that which
    draws these conclusions is in either case reason. We infer, we go
    upon reasons, we use premisses in either case. The premisses of
    faith are not so palpable as those of ordinary reason, but they
    are as real and solid premisses all the same. Our faith in the
    existence of a God and a future state is founded upon reasons as
    much so as the belief in the commonest kind of facts. The reasons
    are in themselves as strong, but, because the conclusions are
    marvellous and are not seconded and backed by known parallels or
    by experience, we do not so passively acquiesce in them; there is
    an exertion of confidence in depending upon them and assuring
    ourselves of their force. The inward energy of the reason has to
    be evoked, when she can no longer lean upon the outward prop of
    custom, but is thrown back upon herself and the intrinsic force of
    her premisses. Which reason, not leaning upon custom, is faith;
    she obtains the latter name when she depends entirely upon her own
    insight into certain grounds, premisses, and evidences, and
    follows it though it leads to transcendent, unparalleled, and
    supernatural conclusions....

    Indeed, does not our heart bear witness to the fact that to
    believe in a God is an exercise of faith? That the universe was
    produced by the will of a personal Being, that its infinite forces
    are all the power of that one Being, its infinite relations the
    perceptions of one Mind--would not this, if any truth could,
    demand the application of the maxim, _Credo quia impossibile_?
    Look at it only as a conception, and does the wildest fiction of
    the imagination equal it? No premisses, no arguments therefore,
    can so accommodate this truth to us as not to leave the belief in
    it an act of mental ascent and trust, of faith as distinguished
    from sight. _Divest_ reason of its trust, and the universe stops
    at the impersonal stage--there is no God; and yet, if the first
    step in religion is the greatest, how is it that the freest and
    boldest speculator rarely declines it? How is it that the most
    mysterious of all truths is a universally accepted one? What is it
    which guards this truth? What is it which makes men shrink from
    denying it? Why is atheism a crime? Is it that authority still
    reigns upon one question, and that the voice of all ages is too
    potent to be withstood?

But the progress of civilisation and thought has impressed this amazing
idea on the general mind. It is no matter-of-course conception. The
difficulties attending it were long insuperable to the deepest thought
as well as to popular belief; and the triumph of the modern and
Christian idea of God is the result not merely of the eager forwardness
of faith, but of the patient and inquiring waiting of reason. And the
question, whether we shall pronounce the miraculous to be impossible as
such, is really the question whether we shall once more let this belief
go.

    The conception of a limited Deity then, i.e. a Being really
    circumscribed in power, and not verbally only by a confinement to
    necessary truth, is at variance with our fundamental idea of a
    God; to depart from which is to retrograde from modern thought to
    ancient, and to go from Christianity back again to Paganism. The
    God of ancient religion was either not a personal Being or not an
    omnipotent Being; the God of modern religion is both. For, indeed,
    civilisation is not opposed to faith. The idea of the Supreme
    Being in the mind of European society now is more primitive, more
    childlike, more imaginative than the idea of the ancient Brahman
    or Alexandrian philosopher; it is an idea which both of these
    would have derided as the notion of a child--a _negotiosus Deus_,
    who interposes in human affairs and answers prayers. So far from
    the philosophical conception of the Deity having advanced with
    civilisation, and the poetical receded, the philosophical has
    receded and the poetical advanced. The God of whom it is said,
    "Are not five sparrows sold for two farthings, and not one of them
    is forgotten before God; but even the very hairs of your head are
    numbered," is the object of modern worship. Nor, again, has
    civilisation shown any signs of rejecting doctrine. Certain ages
    are, indeed, called the ages of faith; but the bulk of society in
    _this_ age believes that it lives under a supernatural
    dispensation, and accepts truths which are not less supernatural,
    though they have more proof, than some doctrines of the Middle
    Ages; and, if so, _this_ is an age of faith. It is true that most
    people do not live up to their faith now; neither did they in the
    Middle Ages.

    Has not modern philosophy, again, shown both more strength and
    acuteness, and also more faith, than the ancient? I speak of the
    main current. Those ancient thinkers who reduced the Supreme Being
    to a negation, with all their subtlety, wanted strength, and
    settled questions by an easier test than that of modern
    philosophy. The merit of a modern metaphysician is, like that of a
    good chemist or naturalist, accurate observation in noting the
    facts of mind. Is there a contradiction in the idea of creation?
    Is there a contradiction in the idea of a personal Infinite Being?
    He examines his own mind, and if he does not see one, he passes
    the idea. But the ancient speculators decided, without examination
    of the true facts of mind, by a kind of philosophical fancy; and,
    according to this loose criterion, the creation of matter and a
    personal Infinite Being were impossibilities, for they mistook the
    inconceivable for the impossible. And thus a stringent test has
    admitted what a loose but capricious test discarded, and the true
    notion of God has issued safe out of the crucible of modern
    metaphysics. Reason has shown its strength, but then it has turned
    that strength back upon itself; it has become its own critic; and
    in becoming its own critic it has become its own check.

    If the belief, then, in a personal Deity lies at the bottom of all
    religious and virtuous practice, and if the removal of it would be
    a descent for human nature, the withdrawal of its inspiration and
    support, and a fall in its whole standard; the failure of the very
    breath of moral life in the individual and in society; the decay
    and degeneration of the very stock of mankind;--does a theory
    which would withdraw miraculous action from the Deity interfere
    with that belief? If it would, it is but prudent to count the cost
    of that interference. Would a Deity deprived of miraculous action
    possess action at all? And would a God who cannot act be a God? If
    this would be the issue, such an issue is the very last which
    religious men can desire. The question here has been all
    throughout, not whether upon any ground, but whether upon a
    religious ground and by religious believers, the miraculous as
    such could be rejected. But to that there is but one answer--that
    it is impossible in reason to separate religion from the
    supernatural, and upon a religious basis to overthrow miracles....

    And so we arrive again by another route at the old turning
    question; for the question whether man is or is not the _vertex_
    of nature, is the question whether there is or is not a God. Does
    free agency stop at the human stage, or is there a sphere of
    free-will above the human, in which, as in the human, not physical
    law but spirit moves matter? And does that free-will penetrate the
    universal frame invisibly to us, an omnipresent agent? If so,
    every miracle in Scripture is as natural an event in the universe
    as any chemical experiment in the physical world; if not, the seat
    of the great Presiding Will is empty, and nature has no Personal
    Head; man is her highest point; he finishes her ascent; though by
    this very supremacy he falls, for under fate he is not free
    himself; all nature either ascends to God, or descends to law. Is
    there above the level of material causes a region of Providence?
    If there is, nature there is moved by the Supreme Free Agent; and
    of such a realm a miracle is the natural production.

    Two rationales of miracles thus present themselves to our choice;
    one more accommodating to the physical imagination and easy to
    fall in with, on a level with custom, common conceptions, and
    ordinary history, and requiring no ascent of the mind to embrace,
    viz. the solution of miracles as the growth of fancy and legend;
    the other requiring an ascent of the reason to embrace it, viz.
    the rationale of the supremacy of a Personal Will in nature. The
    one is the explanation to which we fall when we dare not trust our
    reason, but mistake its inconceivable truths for sublime but
    unsubstantial visions; the other is that to which we rise when we
    dare trust our reason, and the evidences which it lays before us
    of the existence of a Personal Supreme Being.

The belief in a personal God thus bringing with it the possibility of
miracles, what reason then has to judge is whether it can accept
miracles as such, or any set of miracles, as worthy of a reasonable
conception of the Divine Nature, and whether it can be fairly said that
such miracles have answered a purpose which approves itself to our
reason. Testimony will always speak at a disadvantage till we are
assured on these points. Into the subject of testimony Mr. Mozley
enters only in a general way, though his remarks on the relation of
testimony to facts of so exceptional a nature as miracles, and also on
the distinct peculiarities of Christian evidence as contrasted with the
evidence of all other classes of alleged miracles, are marked by a
characteristic combination of acuteness, precision, and broad practical
sobriety and moderation. He rebukes with quiet and temperate and yet
resolute plainness of statement the misplaced ingenuity which, on
different sides, to serve very different causes, has tried to confuse
and perplex the claims of the great Christian miracles by comparisons
which it is really mere wantonness to make with later ones; for, be
they what they may, it is certain that the Gospel miracles, in nature,
in evidence, and in purpose and result, are absolutely unique in the
world, and have nothing like them. And though the book mainly confines
itself to its proper subject, the antecedent question of credibility,
some of the most striking remarks in it relate to the way in which the
purpose of miracles is visible in those of Christianity, and has been
served by them. A miracle is an instrument--an instrument without which
revelation is impossible; and Mr. Mozley meets Spinoza's objection to
the unmeaning isolation of a miracle by insisting on the distinction,
which Spinoza failed to see, between a miracle simply as a wonder for
its own sake, and as a means, deriving its use and its value simply
from the end which it was to serve. He observes that all the stupendous
"marvels of nature do not speak to us in that way in which one miracle
does, because they do not tell us that we are not like themselves"; and
he remarks on the "perverse determination of Spinoza to look at
miracles in that aspect which does not belong to them, and not to look
at them in that aspect which does."

    He compares miracles with nature, and then says how wise is the
    order of nature, how meaningless the violation of it; how
    expressive of the Almighty Mind the one, what a concealment of it
    the other! But no one pretends to say that a miracle competes with
    nature, in physical purpose and effectiveness. That is not its
    object. But a miracle, though it does not profess to compete with
    nature upon its rival's own ground, has a ghostly force and import
    which nature has not. If real, it is a token, more pointed and
    direct than physical order can be, of another world, and of Moral
    Being and Will in that world.

Thus, regarding miracles as means to fulfil a purpose, Mr. Mozley shows
what has come of them. His lecture on "Miracles regarded in their
Practical Result" is excelled by some of the others as examples of
subtle and searching thought and well-balanced and compact argument;
but it is a fine example of the way in which a familiar view can have
fresh colour and force thrown into it by the way in which it is
treated. He shows that it is impossible in fact to separate from the
miracles in which it professed to begin, the greatest and deepest moral
change which the world has ever known. This change was made not by
miracles but by certain doctrines. The Epistle to the Romans surveyed
the moral failure of the world; St. Paul looked on the chasm between
knowledge and action, the "unbridged gulf, this incredible inability of
man to do what was right, with profound wonder"; but in the face of
this hopeless spectacle he dared to prophesy the moral elevation which
we have witnessed, and the power to which he looked to bring it about
was the Christian doctrines. St. Paul "takes what may be called the
high view of human nature--i.e. what human nature is capable of when
the proper motive and impulse is applied to it." He sees in Christian
doctrine that strong force which is to break down "the _vis inertiae_
of man, to set human nature going, to touch the spring of man's heart";
and he compares with St. Paul's doctrines and hopefulness the doctrinal
barrenness, the despair of Mohammedanism:--

    If one had to express in a short compass the character of its
    remarkable founder as a teacher, it would be that that great man
    had no faith in human nature. There were two things which he
    thought man could do and would do for the glory of God--transact
    religious forms, and fight; and upon those two points he was
    severe; but within the sphere of common practical life, where
    man's great trial lies, his code exhibits the disdainful laxity of
    a legislator who accommodates his rule to the recipient, and shows
    his estimate of the recipient by the accommodation which he
    adopts. Did we search history for a contrast, we could hardly
    discover a deeper one than that between St. Paul's overflowing
    standard of the capabilities of human nature and the oracular
    cynicism of the great false Prophet. The writer of the Koran does,
    indeed, if any discerner of hearts ever did, take the measure of
    mankind; and his measure is the same that Satire has taken, only
    expressed with the majestic brevity of one who had once lived in
    the realm of Silence. "Man is weak," says Mahomet. And upon that
    maxim he legislates.... The keenness of Mahomet's insight into
    human nature, a wide knowledge of its temptations, persuasives,
    influences under which it acts, a vast immense capacity of
    forbearance for it, half grave half genial, half sympathy half
    scorn, issue in a somewhat Horatian model, the character of the
    man of experience who despairs of any change in man, and lays down
    the maxim that we must take him as we find him. It was indeed his
    supremacy in both faculties, the largeness of the passive nature
    and the splendour of action, that constituted the secret of his
    success. The breadth and flexibility of mind that could negotiate
    with every motive of interest, passion, and pride in man is
    surprising; there is boundless sagacity; what is wanting is hope,
    a belief in the capabilities of human nature. There is no upward
    flight in the teacher's idea of man. Instead of which, the notion
    of the power of earth, and the impossibility of resisting it,
    depresses his whole aim, and the shadow of the tomb falls upon the
    work of the great false Prophet.

    The idea of God is akin to the idea of man. "He knows us," says
    Mahomet. God's _knowledge_, the vast _experience_, so to speak, of
    the Divine Being, His infinite acquaintance with man's frailties
    and temptations, is appealed to as the ground of confidence. "He
    is the Wise, the Knowing One," "He is the Knowing, the Wise," "He
    is easy to be reconciled." Thus is raised a notion of the Supreme
    Being, which is rather an extension of the character of the
    large-minded and sagacious man of the world than an extension of
    man's virtue and holiness. He forgives because He knows too much
    to be rigid, because sin universal ceases to be sin, and must be
    given way to. Take a man who has had large opportunity of studying
    mankind, and has come into contact with every form of human
    weakness and corruption; such a man is indulgent as a simple
    consequence of his knowledge, because nothing surprises him. So
    the God of Mahomet forgives by reason of His vast knowledge.

In contrast with the fruit of this he observes that "the prophecy in
the Epistle to the Romans has been fulfilled, and that doctrine has
been historically at the bottom of a great change of moral practice in
mankind." The key has been found to set man's moral nature in action,
to check and reverse that course of universal failure manifest before;
and this key is Christian doctrine. "A stimulus has been given to human
nature which has extracted an amount of action from it which no Greek
or Roman could have believed possible." It is inconceivable that but
for such doctrine such results as have been seen in Christendon would
have followed; and were it now taken away we cannot see anything else
that would have the faintest expectation of taking its place. "Could we
commit mankind to a moral Deism without trembling for the result?" Can
the enthusiasm for the divinity of human nature stand the test of
clear, unsparing observation? Would it not issue in such an estimate of
human nature as Mahomet took? "A deification of humanity upon its own
grounds, an exaltation which is all height and no depth, wants power
because it wants truth. It is not founded upon the facts of human
nature, and therefore issues in vain and vapid aspiration, and injures
the solidity of man's character." As he says, "The Gospel doctrine of
the Incarnation and its effects alone unites the sagacious view of
human nature with the enthusiastic." And now what is the historical
root and basis from which this one great moral revolution in the
world's history, so successful, so fruitful, so inexhaustible, has
started?

    But if, as the source and inspiration of practice, doctrine has
    been the foundation of a new state of the world, and of that
    change which distinguishes the world under Christianity from the
    world before it, miracles, as the proof of that doctrine, stand
    before us in a very remarkable and peculiar light. Far from being
    mere idle feats of power to gratify the love of the marvellous;
    far even from being mere particular and occasional rescues from
    the operation of general laws,--they come before us as means for
    accomplishing the largest and most important practical object that
    has ever been accomplished in the history of mankind. They lie at
    the bottom of the difference of the modern from the ancient world;
    so far, i.e., as that difference is moral. We see as a fact a
    change in the moral condition of mankind, which marks ancient and
    modern society as two different states of mankind. What has
    produced this change, and elicited this new power of action?
    Doctrine. And what was the proof of that doctrine, or essential to
    the proof of it? Miracles. The greatness of the result thus throws
    light upon the propriety of the means, and shows the fitting
    object which was presented for the introduction of such means--the
    fitting occasion which had arisen for the use of them; for,
    indeed, no more weighty, grand, or solemn occasion can be
    conceived than the foundation of such a new order of things in the
    world. Extraordinary action of Divine power for such an end has
    the benefit of a justifying object of incalculable weight; which
    though not of itself, indeed, proof of the fact, comes with
    striking force upon the mind in connection with the proper proof.
    It is reasonable, it is inevitable, that we should be impressed by
    such a result; for it shows that the miraculous system has been a
    practical one; that it has been a step in the ladder of man's
    ascent, the means of introducing those powerful truths which have
    set his moral nature in action.

Of this work, remarkable in so many ways, we will add but one thing
more. It is marked throughout with the most serious and earnest
conviction, but it is without a single word, from first to last, of
asperity or insinuation against opponents; and this, not from any
deficiency of feeling as to the importance of the issue, but from a
deliberate and resolutely maintained self-control, and from an
overruling ever-present sense of the duty, on themes like these, of a
more than judicial calmness.



IX

ECCE HOMO[11]


  [11]
  _Ecce Homo: A Survey of the Life and Work of Jesus Christ. Guardian_,
  7th February 1866.

This is a dangerous book to review. The critic of it, if he is prudent,
will feel that it is more than most books a touchstone of his own
capacity, and that in giving his judgment upon it he cannot help giving
his own measure and betraying what he is himself worth. All the
unconscious guiding which a name, even if hitherto unknown, gives to
opinion is wanting. The first aspect of the book is perplexing; closer
examination does not clear up all the questions which present
themselves; and many people, after they have read it through, will not
feel quite certain what it means. Much of what is on the surface and
much of what is inherent in the nature of the work will jar painfully
on many minds; while others who begin to read it under one set of
impressions may by the time they have got to the end complain of having
been taken in. There can be no doubt on which side the book is; but it
may be open to debate from which side it has come. The unknown champion
who comes into the lists with barred vizor and no cognisance on his
shield leaves it not long uncertain for which of the contending parties
he appears; but his weapons and his manner of fighting are not the
ordinary ones of the side which he takes; and there is a force in his
arm, and a sweep in his stroke, which is not that of common men. The
book is one which it is easy to take exception to, and perhaps still
easier to praise at random; but the subject is put before us in so
unusual a way, and one so removed from the ordinary grooves of thought,
that in trying to form an adequate estimate of the work as a whole, a
man feels as he does when he is in the presence of something utterly
unfamiliar and unique, when common rules and inferences fail him, and
in pronouncing upon which he must make something of a venture.

In making our own venture we will begin with what seems to us
incontestable. In the first place, but that it has been questioned, we
should say that there could be no question of the surpassing ability
which the book displays. It is far beyond the power of the average
clever and practised writer of our days. It is the work of a man in
whom thought, sympathy, and imagination are equally powerful and
wealthy, and who exercises a perfect and easy command over his own
conceptions, and over the apt and vivid language which is their
expression. Few men have entered so deeply into the ideas and feelings
of the time, or have looked at the world, its history and its
conditions, with so large and piercing an insight. But it is idle to
dwell on what must strike, at first sight, any one who but opens the
book. We go on to observe, what is equally beyond dispute, the deep
tone of religious seriousness which pervades the work. The writer's way
of speaking is very different from that of the ascetic or the devotee;
but no ascetic or devotee could be more profoundly penetrated with the
great contrast between holiness and evil, and show more clearly in his
whole manner of thinking the ineffaceable impression of the powers of
the world to come. Whatever else the book may be, this much is plain on
the face of it--it is the work of a mind of extreme originality, depth,
refinement, and power; and it is also the work of a very religious man:
Thomas à Kempis had not a more solemn sense of things unseen and of
what is meant by the Imitation of Christ.

What the writer wishes his book to be understood to be we must gather
from his Preface:--

    Those who feel dissatisfied with the current conceptions of
    Christ, if they cannot rest content without a definite opinion,
    may find it necessary to do what to persons not so dissatisfied it
    seems audacious and perilous to do. They may be obliged to
    reconsider the whole subject from the beginning, and placing
    themselves in imagination at the time when he whom we call Christ
    bore no such name, but was simply, as St. Luke describes him, a
    young man of promise, popular with those who knew him, and
    appearing to enjoy the Divine favour, to trace his biography from
    point to point, and accept those conclusions about him, not which
    church doctors or even apostles have sealed with their authority,
    but which the facts themselves, critically weighed, appear to
    warrant.

    This is what the present writer undertook to do for the
    satisfaction of his own mind, and because, after reading a good
    many books on Christ, he felt still constrained to confess that
    there was no historical character whose motives, objects, and
    feelings remained so incomprehensible to him. The inquiry which
    proved serviceable to himself may chance to be useful to others.

    What is now published is a fragment. No theological questions
    whatever are here discussed. Christ, as the creator of modern
    theology and religion, will make the subject of another volume,
    which, however, the author does not hope to publish for some time
    to come. In the meanwhile he has endeavoured to furnish an answer
    to the question, What was Christ's object in founding the Society
    which is called by his name, and how is it adapted to attain that
    object?

Thus the book comes before us as a serious facing of difficulties. And
that the writer lays stress on its being so viewed appears further from
a letter which he wrote to the _Spectator_, repeating emphatically that
the book is not one "written after the investigation was completed, but
the _investigation_ itself." The letter may be taken to complete the
statement of the Preface:--

    I endeavoured in my Preface to describe the state of mind in which
    I undertook my book. I said that the character and objects of
    Christ were at that time altogether incomprehensible to me, and
    that I wished to try whether an independent investigation would
    relieve my perplexity. Perhaps I did not distinctly enough state
    that _Ecce Homo_ is not a book written after the investigation was
    completed, but the _investigation_ itself.

    The Life of Christ is partly easy to understand and partly
    difficult. This being so, what would a man do who wished to study
    it methodically? Naturally he would take the easy part first. He
    would collect, arrange, and carefully consider all the facts which
    are simple, and until he has done this, he would carefully avoid
    all those parts of his subject which are obscure, and which cannot
    be explained without making bold hypotheses. By this course he
    would limit the problem, and in the meanwhile arrive at a probable
    opinion concerning the veracity of the documents, and concerning
    the characteristics, both intellectual and moral, of the person
    whose high pretensions he wished to investigate.

    This is what I have done. I have postponed altogether the hardest
    questions connected with Christ, as questions which cannot
    properly be discussed until a considerable quantity of evidence
    has been gathered about his character and views. If this evidence,
    when collected, had appeared to be altogether conflicting and
    inconsistent, I should have been saved the trouble of proceeding
    any further; I should have said that Christ is a myth. If it had
    been consistent, and had disclosed to me a person of mean and
    ambitious aims, I should have said, Christ is a deceiver. Again,
    if it had exhibited a person of weak understanding and strong
    impulsive sensibility, I should have said Christ is a bewildered
    enthusiast.

    In all these cases you perceive my method would have saved me a
    good deal of trouble. As it is, I certainly feel bound to go on,
    though, as I say in my Preface, my progress will necessarily be
    slow. But I am much engaged and have little time for theological
    study. But pray do not suppose that postponing questions is only
    another name for evading them. I think I have gained much by this
    postponement. I have now a very definite notion of Christ's
    character and that of his followers. I shall be able to judge how
    far he was likely to deceive himself or them. It is possible I may
    have put others, who can command more time than I, in a condition
    to take up the subject where for the present I leave it.

    You say my picture suffers by my method. But _Ecce Homo_ is not a
    picture: it is the very opposite of a picture; it is an analysis.
    It may be, you will answer, that the title suggests a picture.
    This may perhaps be true, and if so, it is no doubt a fault, but a
    fault in the title, not in the book. For titles are put to books,
    not books to titles.

Thus it appears that the writer found it his duty to investigate those
awful questions which every thinking man feels to be full of the
"incomprehensible" and unfathomable, but which many thinking men, for
various reasons both good and bad, shrink from attempting to
investigate, accepting on practical and very sufficient grounds the
religious conclusions which are recommended and sanctioned by the
agreement of Christendom. And finding it his duty to investigate them
at all, he saw that he was bound to investigate in earnest. But under
what circumstances this happened, from what particular pressure of
need, and after what previous belief or state of opinion, we are not
told. Whether from being originally on the doubting side--on the
irreligious side we cannot suppose he ever could have been--he has
risen through his investigation into belief; or whether, originally on
the believing side, he found the aspect so formidable, to himself or to
the world, of the difficulties and perplexities which beset belief,
that he turned to bay upon the foes that dogged him--must be left to
conjecture. It is impossible to question that he has been deeply
impressed with the difficulties of believing; it is impossible to
question that doubt has been overborne and trampled under foot. But
here we have the record, it would not be accurate to say of the
struggle, but of that resolute and unflinching contemplation of the
realities of the case which decided it. Such plunging into such a
question must seem, as he says, to those who do not need it, "audacious
and perilous"; for if you plunge into a question in earnest, and do not
under a thin disguise take a side, you must, whatever your bias and
expectation, take your chance of the alternative answers which may come
out. It is a simple fact that there are many people who feel
"dissatisfied with the current conceptions" of our Lord--whether
reasonably and justly dissatisfied is another question; but whatever we
think of it they remain dissatisfied. In such emergencies it is
conceivable that a man who believes, yet keenly realises and feels what
disturbs or destroys the belief of others, should dare to put himself
in their place; should enter the hospital and suffer the disease which
makes such ravages; should descend into the shades and face the
spectres. No one can deny the risk of dwelling on such thoughts as he
must dwell on; but if he feels warmly with his kind, he may think it
even a duty to face the risk. To any one accustomed to live on his
belief it cannot but be a hard necessity, full of pain and difficulty,
first to think and then to speak of what he believes, as if it _might
not_ be, or _could be_ otherwise; but the changes of time bring up ever
new hard necessities; and one thing is plain, that if ever such an
investigation is undertaken, it ought to be a real one, in good earnest
and not in play. If a man investigates at all, both for his own sake
and for the sake of the effect of his investigation on others, he must
accept the fair conditions of investigation. We may not ourselves be
able to conceive the possibility of taking, even provisionally, a
neutral position; but looking at what is going on all round us, we
ought to be able to enlarge our thoughts sufficiently to take in the
idea that a believing mind may feel it a duty to surrender itself
boldly to the intellectual chances and issues of the inquiry, and to
"let its thoughts take their course in the confidence that they will
come home at last." It may be we ourselves who "have not faith enough
to be patient of doubt"; there may be others who feel that if what they
believe is real, they need not be afraid of the severest revisal and
testing of the convictions on which they rest; who feel that, in the
circumstances of the time, it is not left to their choice whether these
convictions shall be sifted unsparingly and to the uttermost; and who
think it a venture not unworthy of a Christian, to descend even to the
depths to go through the thoughts of doubters, if so be that he may
find the spell that shall calm them. We do not say that this book is
the production of such a state of mind; we only think that it may be.
One thing is clear, wherever the writer's present lot is cast, he has
that in him which not only enables him, but forces him, to sympathise
with what he sees in the opposite camp. If he is what is called a
Liberal, his whole heart is yet pouring itself forth towards the great
truths of Christianity. If he is what is called orthodox, his whole
intellect is alive to the right and duty of freedom of thought. He will
therefore attract and repel on both sides. And he appears to feel that
the position of double sympathy gives him a special advantage, to
attract to each side what is true in its opposite, and to correct in
each what is false or inadequate.

What, then, is this investigation, and what course does it follow? At
the first aspect, we might take it for one of those numerous attempts
on the Liberal side, partly impatient, partly careless of Christianity,
to put a fresh look on the Christian history, and to see it with new
eyes. The writer's language is at starting neutral; he speaks of our
Lord in the language indeed of the New Testament, but not in the usual
language of later Christian writers. All through, the colour and tone
is absolutely modern; and what would naturally be expressed in familiar
theological terms is for the most part studiously put in other words.
Persons acquainted with the writings of the late Mr. Robertson might be
often reminded of his favourite modes of teaching; of his maxim that
truth is made up of two opposites which seem contradictories; of the
distinction which he was so fond of insisting upon between principles
and rules; above all, of his doctrine that the true way to rise to the
faith in our Lord's Divine Nature was by first realising His Human
Life. But the resemblance is partial, if not superficial, and gives way
on closer examination before broad and characteristic features of an
entirely different significance. That one which at first arrests
attention, and distinguishes this writer's line of thought from the
common Liberal way of dealing with the subject, is that from the first
page of the book to its last line the work of Christ is viewed, not
simply as the foundation of a religious system, the introduction of
certain great principles, the elevation of religious ideas, the
delivery of Divine truths, the exhibition of a life and example, but as
the call and creation of a definite, concrete, organised society of
men. The subject, of investigation is not merely the character and
history of the Person, but the Person as connected with His work.
Christ is regarded not simply in Himself or in His teaching, as the
Founder of a philosophy, a morality, a theology in the abstract, but as
the Author of a Divine Society, the Body which is called by His Name,
the Christian Church Universal, a real and visible company of men,
which, however we may understand it, exists at this moment as it has
existed since His time, marked by His badges, governed by His laws, and
working out His purpose. The writer finds the two joined in fact, and
he finds them also joined in the recorded history of Christ's plan. The
book might almost be described as the beginning of a new _De Civitate
Dei_, written with the further experience of fourteen centuries and
from the point of view of our own generation. This is one remarkable
peculiarity of this investigation; another is the prominence given to
the severe side of the Person and character of whom he writes, and what
is even more observable, the way in which both the severity and the
gentleness are apprehended and harmonised.

We are familiar with the attempts to resolve the Christianity of the
New Testament into philanthropy; and, on the other hand, writers like
Mr. Carlyle will not let us forget that the world is as dark and evil
as the Bible draws it. This writer feels both in one. No one can show
more sympathy with enlarged and varied ideas of human happiness, no one
has connected them more fearlessly with Christian principles, or
claimed from those principles more unlimited developments, even for the
physical well-being of men. No one has extended wider the limits of
Christian generosity, forbearance, and tolerance. But, on the other
hand, what is striking is, that all this is compatible, and is made to
appear so, with the most profound and terrible sense of evil, with
indignation and scorn which is scathing where it kindles and strikes,
with a capacity and energy of deliberate religious hatred against what
is impure and false and ungodly, which mark one who has dared to
realise and to sympathise with the wrath of Jesus Christ.

The world has been called in these later days, and from opposite
directions, to revise its judgments about Jesus Christ. Christians, on
the one hand, have been called to do it by writers of whom M. Ernest
Renan is the most remarkable and the most unflinching. But the
sceptical and the unbelieving have likewise been obliged to change
their ground and their tone, and no one with any self-respect or care
for his credit even as a thinker and a man would like to repeat the
superficial and shallow flippancy and irreligion of the last century.
Two things have been specially insisted on. We have been told that if
we are to see the truth of things as it is, we must disengage our minds
from the deeply rooted associations and conceptions of a later
theology, and try to form our impressions first-hand and unprompted
from the earliest documents which we can reach. It has been further
urged on us, in a more believing spirit, that we should follow the
order by which in fact truth was unfolded, and rise from the full
appreciation of our Lord's human nature to the acknowledgment of His
Divine nature. It seems to us that the writer of this book has felt the
force of both these appeals, and that his book is his answer to them.
Here is the way in which he responds to both--to the latter indirectly,
but with a significance which no one can mistake; to the former
directly and avowedly. He undertakes, isolating himself from current
beliefs, and restricting himself to the documents from which, if from
any source at all, the original facts about Christ are to be learned,
to examine what the genuine impression is which an attempt to realise
the statements about him leaves on the mind. This has been done by
others, with results supposed to be unfavourable to Christianity. He
has been plainly moved by these results, though not a hint is given of
the existence of Renan or Strauss. But the effect on his own mind has
been to drive him back on a closer survey of the history in its first
fountains, and to bring him from it filled more than ever with wonder
at its astonishing phenomena, to protest against the poverty and
shallowness of the most ambitious and confident of these attempts. They
leave the historical Character which they pourtray still unsounded, its
motives, objects, and feelings absolutely incomprehensible. He accepts
the method to reverse the product. "Look at Christ historically,"
people say; "see Him as He really was." The answer here is, "Well, I
will look at Him with whatever aid a trained historical imagination can
look at Him. I accept your challenge; I admit your difficulties. I will
dare to do what you do. I will try and look at the very facts
themselves, with singleness and 'innocence of the eye,' trying to see
nothing more than I really see, and trying to see all that my eye falls
on. I will try to realise indeed what is recorded of Him. And _this_ is
what I see. This is the irresistible impression from the plainest and
most elementary part of the history, if we are to accept any history at
all. A miracle could not be more unlike the order of our experience
than the Character set before us is unique and unapproachable in all
known history. Further, all that makes the superiority of the modern
world to the ancient, and is most permanent and pregnant with
improvement in it, may be traced to the appearance of that Character,
and to the work which He planned and did. You ask for a true picture of
Him, drawn with freedom, drawn with courage; here, if you dare look at
it, is what those who wrote of Him showed Him to be. Renan has tried to
draw this picture. Take the Gospels as they stand; treat them simply as
biographies; look, and see, and think of what they tell, and then ask
yourself about Renan's picture, and what it looks like when placed side
by side with the truth."

This, as we have ventured to express it in our own words, seems to be
the writer's position. It is at any rate the effect of his book, to our
minds. The inquiry, it must always be remembered, is a preliminary one,
dealing, as he says, with the easiest and obvious elements of the
problem; and much that seems inadequate and unsatisfactory may be
developed hereafter. He starts from what, to those who already have the
full belief, must appear a low level. He takes, as it will be seen, the
documents as they stand. He takes little more than the first three
Gospels, and these as a whole, without asking minute questions about
them. The mythical theory he dismisses as false to nature, in dealing
with such a Character and such results. He talks in his preface of
"critically weighing" the facts; but the expression is misleading. It
is true that we may talk of criticism of character; but the words
naturally suggest that close cross-questioning of documents and details
which has produced such remarkable results in modern investigations;
and of this there is none. It is a work in no sense of criticism; it is
a work of what he calls the "trained historical imagination"; a work of
broad and deep knowledge of human nature and the world it works in and
creates about it; a work of steady and large insight into character,
and practical judgment on moral likelihoods. He answers Strauss as he
answers Renan, by producing the interpretation of a character, so
living, so in accordance with all before and after, that it overpowers
and sweeps away objections; a picture, an analysis or outline, if he
pleases, which justifies itself and is its own evidence, by its
originality and internal consistency. Criticism in detail does not
affect him. He assumes nothing of the Gospels, except that they are
records; neither their inspiration in any theological sense, nor their
authorship, nor their immunity from mistake, nor the absolute purity of
their texts. But taking them as a whole he discerns in them a Character
which, if you accept them at all and on any terms, you cannot mistake.
Even if the copy is ever so imperfect, ever so unskilful, ever so
blurred and defaced, there is no missing the features any more than a
man need miss the principle of a pattern because it is rudely or
confusedly traced. He looks at these "biographies" as a geologist might
do at a disturbed series of strata; and he feeds his eye upon them till
he gets such a view of the coherent whole as will stand independent of
the right or wrong disposition of the particular fragments. To the mind
which discerns the whole, the regulating principle, the general curves
and proportions of the strata may be just as visible after the
disturbance as before it. The Gospels bring before us the visible and
distinct outlines of a life which, after all efforts to alter the idea
of it, remains still the same; they present certain clusters of leading
ideas and facts so embedded in their substance that no criticism of
detail can possibly get rid of them, without absolutely obliterating
the whole record. It is this leading idea, or cluster of ideas, to be
gained by intent gazing, which the writer disengages from all questions
of criticism in the narrow sense of the word, and sets before us as
explaining the history of Christianity, and as proving themselves by
that explanation. That the world has been moved we know. "Give me," he
seems to say, "the Character which is set forth in the Gospels, and I
can show how He moved it":--

    It is in the object of the present treatise to exhibit Christ's
    career in outline. No other career ever had so much unity; no
    other biography is so simple or can so well afford to dispense
    with details. Men in general take up scheme after scheme, as
    circumstances suggest one or another, and therefore most
    biographies are compelled to pass from one subject to another, and
    to enter into a multitude of minute questions, to divide the life
    carefully into periods by chronological landmarks accurately
    determined, to trace the gradual development of character and
    ripening or change of opinions. But Christ formed one plan and
    executed it; no important change took place in his mode of
    thinking, speaking, or acting; at least the evidence before us
    does not enable us to trace any such change. It is possible,
    indeed, for students of his life to find details which they may
    occupy themselves with discussing; they may map out the chronology
    of it, and devise methods of harmonising the different accounts;
    but such details are of little importance compared with the one
    grand question, what was Christ's plan, and throw scarcely any
    light upon that question. What was Christ's plan is the main
    question which will be investigated in the present treatise, and
    that vision of universal monarchy which we have just been
    considering affords an appropriate introduction to it....

    We conclude then, that Christ in describing himself as a king, and
    at the same time as king of the Kingdom of God--in other words as
    a king representing the Majesty of the Invisible King of a
    theocracy--claimed the character first of Founder, next of
    Legislator; thirdly, in a certain high and peculiar sense, of
    Judge, of a new divine society.

    In defining as above the position which Christ assumed, we have
    not entered into controvertible matter. We have not rested upon
    single passages, nor drawn upon the fourth Gospel. To deny that
    Christ did undertake to found and to legislate for a new
    theocratic society, and that he did claim the office of Judge of
    mankind, is indeed possible, but only to those who altogether deny
    the credibility of the extant biographies of Christ. If those
    biographies be admitted to be generally trustworthy, then Christ
    undertook to be what we have described; if not, then of course
    this, but also every other account of him falls to the ground.

We have said that he starts from a low level; and he restricts himself
so entirely at the opening to facts which do not involve dispute, that
his views of them are necessarily incomplete, and, so to say,
provisional and deliberate understatements. He begins no higher than
the beginning of the public ministry, the Baptism, and the Temptation;
and his account of these leaves much to say, though it suggests much of
what is left unsaid. But he soon gets to the proper subject of his
book--the absolute uniqueness of Him whose equally unique work has been
the Christian Church. And this uniqueness he finds in the combination
of "unbounded personal pretensions," and the possession, claimed and
believed, of boundless power, with an absolutely unearthly use of His
pretensions and His power, and with a goodness which has proved to be,
and still is, the permanent and ever-flowing source of moral elevation
and improvement in the world. He early comes across the question of
miracles, and, as he says, it is impossible to separate the claim to
them and the belief in them from the story. We find Christ, he says,
"describing himself as a king, and at the same time as king of the
Kingdom of God"; calling forth and founding a new and divine society,
and claiming to be, both now and hereafter, the Judge without appeal of
all mankind; "he considered, in short, heaven and hell to be in his
hands." And we find, on the other hand, that as such He has been
received. To such an astonishing chain of phenomena miracles naturally
belong:--

    When we contemplate this scheme as a whole, and glance at the
    execution and results of it, three things strike us with
    astonishment. First, its prodigious originality, if the expression
    may be used. What other man has had the courage or elevation of
    mind to say, "I will build up a state by the mere force of my
    will, without help from the kings of the world, without taking
    advantage of any of the secondary causes which unite men
    together--unity of interest or speech, or blood-relationship. I
    will make laws for my state which shall never be repealed, and I
    will defy all the powers of destruction that are at work in the
    world to destroy what I build"?

    Secondly, we are astonished at the calm confidence with which the
    scheme was carried out. The reason why statesmen can seldom work
    on this vast scale is that it commonly requires a whole lifetime
    to gain that ascendency over their fellow-men which such schemes
    presuppose. Some of the leading organisers of the world have said,
    "I will work my way to supreme power, and then I will execute
    great plans." But Christ overleaped the first stage altogether. He
    did not work his way to royalty, but simply said to all men, "I am
    your king." He did not struggle forward to a position in which he
    could found a new state, but simply founded it.

    Thirdly, we are astonished at the prodigious success of the
    scheme. It is not more certain that Christ presented himself to
    men as the founder, legislator, and judge of a divine society than
    it is certain that men have accepted him in these characters, that
    the divine society has been founded, that it has lasted nearly two
    thousand years, that it has extended over a large and the most
    highly-civilised portion of the earth's surface, and that it
    continues full of vigour at the present day.

    Between the astonishing design and its astonishing success there
    intervenes an astonishing instrumentality--that of miracles. It
    will be thought by some that in asserting miracles to have been
    actually wrought by Christ we go beyond what the evidence, perhaps
    beyond what any possible evidence, is able to sustain. Waiving,
    then, for the present, the question whether miracles were actually
    wrought, we may state a fact which is fully capable of being
    established by ordinary evidence, and which is actually
    established by evidence as ample as any historical fact
    whatever--the fact, namely, that Christ _professed_ to work
    miracles. We may go further, and assert with confidence that
    Christ was believed by his followers really to work miracles, and
    that it was mainly on this account that they conceded to Him the
    pre-eminent dignity and authority which he claimed. The accounts
    which we have of these miracles may be exaggerated; it is possible
    that in some special cases stories have been related which have no
    foundation whatever; but on the whole, miracles play so important
    a part in Christ's scheme, that any theory which would represent
    them as due entirely to the imagination of his followers or of a
    later age destroys the credibility of the documents not partially
    but wholly, and leaves Christ a personage as mythical as Hercules.
    Now, the present treatise aims to show that the Christ of the
    Gospels is not mythical, by showing that the character those
    biographies portray is in all its large features strikingly
    consistent, and at the same time so peculiar as to be altogether
    beyond the reach of invention both by individual genius and still
    more by what is called the "consciousness of an age." Now, if the
    character depicted in the Gospels is in the main real and
    historical, they must be generally trustworthy, and if so, the
    responsibility of miracles is fixed on Christ. In this case the
    reality of the miracles themselves depends in a great degree on
    the opinion we form of Christ's veracity, and this opinion must
    arise gradually from the careful examination of his whole life.
    For our present purpose, which is to investigate the plan which
    Christ formed and the way in which he executed it, it matters
    nothing whether the miracles were real or imaginary; in either
    case, being believed to be real, they had the same effect.
    Provisionally, therefore, we may speak of them as real.

Without the belief in miracles, as he says, it is impossible to
conceive the history of the Church:--

    If we suppose that Christ really performed no miracles, and that
    those which are attributed to him were the product of
    self-deception mixed in some proportion or other with imposture,
    then no doubt the faith of St. Paul and St. John was an empty
    chimera, a mere misconception; but it is none the less true that
    those apparent miracles were essential to Christ's success, and
    that had he not pretended to perform them the Christian Church
    would never have been founded, and the name of Jesus of Nazareth
    would be known at this day only to the curious in Jewish
    antiquities.

But he goes on to point out what was the use which Christ made of
miracles, and how it was that they did not, as they might have done,
even impede His purpose of founding His kingdom on men's consciences
and not on their terrors. In one of the most remarkable passages
perhaps ever written on the Gospel miracles as they are seen when
simply looked at as they are described, the writer says:--

    He imposed upon himself a strict restraint in the dse of his
    supernatural powers. He adopted the principle that he was not sent
    to destroy men's lives but to save them, and rigidly abstained in
    practice from inflicting any kind of damage or harm. In this course
    he persevered so steadily that it became generally understood.
    Every one knew that this _king_, whose royal pretensions were so
    prominent, had an absolutely unlimited patience, and that he would
    endure the keenest criticism, the bitterest and most malignant
    personal attacks. Men's mouths were open to discuss his claims and
    character with perfect freedom; so far from regarding him with that
    excessive fear which might have prevented them from receiving his
    doctrine intelligently, they learnt gradually to treat him, even
    while they acknowledged his extraordinary power, with a reckless
    animosity which they would have been afraid to show towards an
    ordinary enemy. With curious inconsistency they openly charged him
    with being leagued with the devil; in other words, they acknowledged
    that he was capable of boundless mischief, and yet they were so
    little afraid of him that they were ready to provoke him to use his
    whole power against themselves. The truth was that they believed
    him to be disarmed by his own deliberate resolution, and they
    judged rightly. He punished their malice only by verbal reproofs,
    and they gradually gathered courage to attack the life of one whose
    miraculous powers they did not question.

    Meantime, while this magnanimous self-restraint saved him from
    false friends and mercenary or servile flatterers, and saved the
    kingdom which he founded from the corruption of self-interest and
    worldliness, it gave him a power over the good such as nothing
    else could have given. For the noblest and most amiable thing that
    can be seen is power mixed with gentleness, the reposing,
    self-restraining attitude of strength. These are the "fine strains
    of honour," these are "the graces of the gods"--

        To tear with thunder the wide cheeks o' the air.
        And yet to charge the sulphur with a bolt
        That shall but rive an oak.

    And while he did no mischief under any provocation, his power
    flowed in acts of beneficence on every side. Men could approach
    near to him, could eat and drink with him, could listen to his
    talk and ask him questions, and they found him not accessible
    only, but warmhearted, and not occupied so much with his own plans
    that he could not attend to a case of distress or mental
    perplexity. They found him full of sympathy and appreciation,
    dropping words of praise, ejaculations of admiration, tears. He
    surrounded himself with those who had tasted of his bounty, sick
    people whom he had cured, lepers whose death-in-life, demoniacs
    whose hell-in-life, he had terminated with a single powerful word.
    Among these came loving hearts who thanked him for friends and
    relatives rescued for them out of the jaws of premature death, and
    others whom he had saved, by a power which did not seem different,
    from vice and degradation.

    This temperance in the use of supernatural power is the
    masterpiece of Christ. It is a moral miracle superinduced upon a
    physical one. This repose in greatness makes him surely the most
    sublime image ever offered to the human imagination. And it is
    precisely this trait which gave him his immense and immediate
    ascendency over men. If the question be put--Why was Christ so
    successful?--Why did men gather round him at his call, form
    themselves into a new society according to his wish, and accept
    him with unbounded devotion as their legislator and judge? some
    will answer, Because of the miracles which attested his divine
    character; others, Because of the intrinsic beauty and divinity of
    the great law of love which he propounded. But miracles, as we
    have seen, have not by themselves this persuasive power. That a
    man possesses a strange power which I cannot understand is no
    reason why I should receive his words as divine oracles of truth.
    The powerful man is not of necessity also wise; his power may
    terrify and yet not convince. On the other hand, the law of love,
    however divine, was but a precept. Undoubtedly it deserved that
    men should accept it for its intrinsic worth, but men are not
    commonly so eager to receive the words of wise men nor so
    unbounded in their gratitude to them. It was neither for his
    miracles nor for the beauty of his doctrine that Christ was
    worshipped. Nor was it for his winning personal character, nor for
    the persecutions he endured, nor for his martyrdom. It was for the
    inimitable unity which all these things made when taken together.
    In other words, it was for this that he whose power and greatness
    as shown in his miracles were overwhelming denied himself the use
    of his power, treated it as a slight thing, walked among men as
    though he were one of them, relieved them in distress, taught them
    to love each other, bore with undisturbed patience a perpetual
    hailstorm of calumny; and when his enemies grew fiercer, continued
    still to endure their attacks in silence, until, petrified and
    bewildered with astonishment, men saw him arrested and put to
    death with torture, refusing steadfastly to use in his own behalf
    the power he conceived he held for the benefit of others. It was
    the combination of greatness and self-sacrifice which won their
    hearts, the mighty powers held under a mighty control, the
    unspeakable condescension, the _Cross_ of _Christ_.

And he goes on to describe the effect upon the world; and what it was
that "drew all men unto Him":--

    To sum up the results of this chapter. We began by remarking that
    an astonishing plan met with an astonishing success, and we raised
    the question to what instrumentality that success was due. Christ
    announced himself as the Founder and Legislator of a new Society,
    and as the Supreme Judge of men. Now by what means did he procure
    that these immense pretensions should be allowed? He might have
    done it by sheer power, he might have adopted persuasion, and
    pointed out the merits of the scheme and of the legislation he
    proposed to introduce. But he adopted a third plan, which had the
    effect not merely of securing obedience, but of exciting
    enthusiasm and devotion. He laid men under an immense
    _obligation_. He convinced them that he was a person of altogether
    transcendent greatness, one who needed nothing at their hands, one
    whom it was impossible to benefit by conferring riches, or fame,
    or dominion upon him, and that, being so great, he had devoted
    himself of mere benevolence to their good. He showed them that for
    their sakes he lived a hard and laborious life, and exposed
    himself to the utmost malice of powerful men. They saw him hungry,
    though they believed him able to turn the stones into bread; they
    saw his royal pretensions spurned, though they believed that he
    could in a moment take into his hand all the kingdoms of the world
    and the glory of them; they saw his life in danger; they saw him
    at last expire in agonies, though they believed that, had he so
    willed it, no danger could harm him, and that had he thrown
    himself from the topmost pinnacle of the temple he would have been
    softly received in the arms of ministering angels. Witnessing his
    sufferings, and convinced by the miracles they saw him work that
    they were voluntarily endured, men's hearts were touched, and pity
    for weakness blending strangely with wondering admiration of
    unlimited power, an agitation of gratitude, sympathy, and
    astonishment, such as nothing else could ever excite, sprang up in
    them; and when, turning from his deeds to his words, they found
    this very self-denial which had guided his own life prescribed as
    the principle which should guide theirs, gratitude broke forth in
    joyful obedience, self-denial produced self-denial, and the Law
    and Lawgiver together were enshrined in their inmost hearts for
    inseparable veneration.

It is plain that whatever there is novel in such a line of argument
must depend upon the way in which it is handled; and it is the
extraordinary and sustained power with which this is done which gives
its character to the book. The writer's method consists in realising
with a depth of feeling and thought which it would not be easy to
match, what our Lord was in His human ministry, as that ministry is set
before us by those who witnessed it; and next, in showing in detail the
connection of that ministry, which wrought so much by teaching, but
still more by the Divine example, "not sparing words but resting most
on deeds," with all that is highest, purest, and best in the morality
of Christendom, and with what is most fruitful and most hopeful in the
differences between the old world and our own. We cannot think we are
wrong when we say that no one could speak of our Lord as this writer
speaks, with the enthusiasm, the overwhelming sense of His
inexpressible authority, of His unapproachable perfection, with the
profound faith which lays everything at His feet, and not also believe
all that the Divine Society which Christ founded has believed about
Him. And though for the present his subject is history, and human
morality as it appears to have been revolutionised and finally fixed by
that history, and not the theology which subsequent in date is yet the
foundation of both, it is difficult to imagine any reader going along
with him and not breaking out at length into the burst, "My Lord and my
God." If it is not so, then the phenomenon is strange indeed; for a
belief below the highest and truest has produced an appreciation, a
reverence, an adoration which the highest belief has only produced in
the choicest examples of those who have had it, and by the side of
which the ordinary exhibitions of the divine history are pale and
feeble. To few, indeed, as it seems to us, has it been given to feel,
and to make others feel, what in all the marvellous complexity of high
and low, and in all the Divine singleness of His goodness and power,
the Son of Man appeared in the days of His flesh. It is not more vivid
or more wonderful than what the Gospels with so much detail tell us of
that awful ministry in real flesh and blood, with a human soul and with
all the reality of man's nature; but most of us, after all, read the
Gospels with sealed and unwondering eyes. But, dwelling on the Manhood,
so as almost to overpower us with the contrast between the distinct and
living truth and the dead and dull familiarity of our thoughts of
routine and custom, he does so in such a way that it is impossible to
doubt, though the word Incarnation never occurs in the volume, that all
the while he has before his thoughts the "taking of the manhood into
God." What is the Gospel picture?

    And let us pause once more to consider that which remains
    throughout a subject of ever-recurring astonishment, the unbounded
    personal pretensions which Christ advances. It is common in human
    history to meet with those who claim some superiority over their
    fellows. Men assert a pre-eminence over their fellow-citizens or
    fellow-countrymen and become rulers of those who at first were
    their equals, but they dream of nothing greater than some partial
    control over the actions of others for the short space of a
    lifetime. Few indeed are those to whom it is given to influence
    future ages. Yet some men have appeared who have been "as levers
    to uplift the earth and roll it in another course." Homer by
    creating literature, Socrates by creating science, Caesar by
    carrying civilisation inland from the shores of the Mediterranean,
    Newton by starting science upon a career of steady progress, may
    be said to have attained this eminence. But these men gave a
    single impact like that which is conceived to have first set the
    planets in motion; Christ claims to be a perpetual attractive
    power like the sun which determines their orbit. They contributed
    to men some discovery and passed away; Christ's discovery is
    himself. To humanity struggling with its passions and its destiny
    he says, Cling to me, cling ever closer to me. If we believe St.
    John, he represented himself as the Light of the world, as the
    Shepherd of the souls of men, as the Way to immortality, as the
    Vine or Life-tree of humanity. And if we refuse to believe that he
    used those words, we cannot deny, without rejecting all the
    evidence before us, that he used words which have substantially
    the same meaning. We cannot deny that he commanded men to leave
    everything and attach themselves to him; that he declared himself
    king, master, and judge of men; that he promised to give rest to
    all the weary and heavy-laden; that he instructed his followers to
    hope for life from feeding on his body and blood.

    But it is doubly surprising to observe that these enormous
    pretensions were advanced by one whose special peculiarity, not
    only among his contemporaries but among the remarkable men that
    have appeared before and since, was an almost feminine tenderness
    and humility. This characteristic was remarked, as we have seen,
    by the Baptist, and Christ himself was fully conscious of it. Yet
    so clear to him was his own dignity and infinite importance to the
    human race as an objective fact with which his own opinion of
    himself had nothing to do, that in the same breath in which he
    asserts it in the most unmeasured language, he alludes, apparently
    with entire unconsciousness, to his _humility_. "Take my yoke upon
    you, and learn of me; _for I am meek and lowly of heart_." And
    again, when speaking to his followers of the arrogance of the
    Pharisees, he says, "They love to be called Rabbi; but be not you
    called Rabbi: _for one is your master, even Christ_."

    Who is the humble man? It is he who resists with special
    watchfulness and success the temptations which the conditions of
    his life may offer to exaggerate his own importance.... If he
    judged himself correctly, and if the Baptist described him well
    when he compared him to a lamb, and, we may add, if his
    biographers have delineated his character faithfully, Christ was
    one naturally contented with obscurity, wanting the restless
    desire for distinction and eminence which is common in great men,
    hating to put forward personal claims, disliking competition and
    "disputes who should be greatest," finding something bombastic in
    the titles of royalty, fond of what is simple and homely, of
    children, of poor people, occupying himself so much with the
    concerns of others, with the relief of sickness and want, that the
    temptation to exaggerate the importance of his own thoughts and
    plans was not likely to master him; lastly, entertaining for the
    human race a feeling so singularly fraternal that he was likely to
    reject as a sort of treason the impulse to set himself in any
    manner above them. Christ, it appears, was this humble man. When
    we have fully pondered the fact we may be in a condition to
    estimate the force of the evidence which, submitted to his mind,
    could induce him, in direct opposition to all his tastes and
    instincts, to lay claim, persistently, with the calmness of entire
    conviction, in opposition to the whole religious world, in spite
    of the offence which his own followers conceived, to a dominion
    more transcendent, more universal, more complete, than the most
    delirious votary of glory ever aspired to in his dreams.

And what is it that our Lord has done for man by being so truly man?

    This then it is which is wanted to raise the feeling of humanity
    into an enthusiasm; when the precept of love has been given, an
    image must be set before the eyes of those who are called upon to
    obey it, an ideal or type of man which may be noble and amiable
    enough to raise the whole race and make the meanest member of it
    sacred with reflected glory.

    Did not Christ do this? Did the command to love go forth to those
    who had never seen a human being they could revere? Could his
    followers turn upon him and say, How can we love a creature so
    degraded, full of vile wants and contemptible passions, whose
    little life is most harmlessly spent when it is an empty round of
    eating and sleeping; a creature destined for the grave and for
    oblivion when his allotted term of fretfulness and folly has
    expired? Of this race Christ himself was a member, and to this day
    is it not the best answer to all blasphemers of the species, the
    best consolation when our sense of its degradation is keenest,
    that a human brain was behind his forehead, and a human heart
    beating in his breast, and that within the whole creation of God
    nothing more elevated or more attractive has yet been found than
    he? And if it be answered that there was in his nature something
    exceptional and peculiar, that humanity must not be measured by
    the stature of Christ, let us remember that it was precisely thus
    that he wished it to be measured, delighting to call himself the
    Son of Man, delighting to call the meanest of mankind his
    brothers. If some human beings are abject and contemptible, if it
    be incredible to us that they can have any high dignity or
    destiny, do we regard them from so great a height as Christ? Are
    we likely to be more pained by their faults and deficiencies than
    he was? Is our standard higher than his? And yet he associated by
    preference with the meanest of the race; no contempt for them did
    he ever express, no suspicion that they might be less dear than
    the best and wisest to the common Father, no doubt that they were
    naturally capable of rising to a moral elevation like his own.
    There is nothing of which a man may be prouder than of this; it is
    the most hopeful and redeeming fact in history; it is precisely
    what was wanting to raise the love of man as man to enthusiasm. An
    eternal glory has been shed upon the human race by the love Christ
    bore to it And it was because the Edict of Universal Love went
    forth to men whose hearts were in no cynical mood, but possessed
    with a spirit of devotion to a man, that words which at any other
    time, however grandly they might sound, would have been but words,
    penetrated so deeply, and along with the law of love the power of
    love was given. Therefore also the first Christians were enabled
    to dispense with philosophical phrases, and instead of saying that
    they loved the ideal of man in man, could simply say and feel that
    they loved Christ in every man.

    We have here the very kernel of the Christian moral scheme. We
    have distinctly before us the end Christ proposed to himself, and
    the means he considered adequate to the attainment of it....

    But how to give to the meagre and narrow hearts of men such
    enlargement? How to make them capable of a universal sympathy?
    Christ believed it possible to bind men to their kind, but on one
    condition--that they were first bound fast to himself. He stood
    forth as the representative of men, he identified himself with the
    cause and with the interests of all human beings; he was destined,
    as he began before long obscurely to intimate, to lay down his
    life for them. Few of us sympathise originally and directly with
    this devotion; few of us can perceive in human nature itself any
    merit sufficient to evoke it. But it is not so hard to love and
    venerate him who felt it. So vast a passion of love, a devotion so
    comprehensive, elevated, deliberate, and profound, has not
    elsewhere been in any degree approached save by some of his
    imitators. And as love provokes love, many have found it possible
    to conceive for Christ an attachment the closeness of which no
    words can describe, a veneration so possessing and absorbing the
    man within them, that they have said, "I live no more, but Christ
    lives in me."

And what, in fact, has been the result, after the utmost and freest
abatement for the objections of those who criticise the philosophical
theories or the practical effects of Christianity?

    But that Christ's method, when rightly applied, is really of
    mighty force may be shown by an argument which the severest censor
    of Christians will hardly refuse to admit. Compare the ancient
    with the modern world: "Look on this picture and on that." The
    broad distinction in the characters of men forces itself into
    prominence. Among all the men of the ancient heathen world there
    were scarcely one or two to whom we might venture to apply the
    epithet "holy." In other words, there were not more than one or
    two, if any, who, besides being virtuous in their actions, were
    possessed with an unaffected enthusiasm of goodness, and besides
    abstaining from vice, regarded even a vicious thought with horror.
    Probably no one will deny that in Christian countries this
    higher-toned goodness, which we call holiness, has existed. Few
    will maintain that it has been exceedingly rare. Perhaps the truth
    is that there has scarcely been a town in any Christian country
    since the time of Christ, where a century has passed without
    exhibiting a character of such elevation that his mere presence
    has shamed the bad and made the good better, and has been felt at
    times like the presence of God Himself. And if this be so, has
    Christ failed? or can Christianity die?

The principle of feeling and action which Christ implanted in that
Divine Society which He founded, or in other words, His morality, had
two peculiarities; it sprang, and it must spring still, from what this
writer calls all through an "enthusiasm"; and this enthusiasm was
kindled and maintained by the influence of a Person. There can be no
goodness without impulses to goodness, any more than these impulses are
enough without being directed by truth and reason; but the impulses
must come before the guidance, and "Christ's Theocracy" is described
"as a great attempt to set all the virtues of the world on this basis,
and to give it a visible centre and fountain." He thus describes how
personal influence is the great instrument of moral quickening and
elevation:--

    How do men become for the most part "pure, generous, and humane"?
    By personal, not by logical influences. They have been reared by
    parents who had these qualities, they have lived in a society
    which had a high tone, they have been accustomed to see just acts
    done, to hear gentle words spoken, and the justness and the
    gentleness have passed into their hearts, and slowly moulded their
    habits and made their moral discernment clear; they remember
    commands and prohibitions which it is a pleasure to obey for the
    sake of those who gave them; often they think of those who may be
    dead and say, "How would this action appear to him? Would he
    approve that word or disapprove it?" To such no baseness appears a
    small baseness because its consequences may be small, nor does the
    yoke of law seem burdensome although it is ever on their necks,
    nor do they dream of covering a sin by an atoning act of virtue.
    Often in solitude they blush when some impure fancy sails across
    the clear heaven of their minds, because they are never alone,
    because the absent Examples, the Authorities they still revere,
    rule not their actions only but their inmost hearts; because their
    conscience is indeed awake and alive, representing all the
    nobleness with which they stand in sympathy, and reporting their
    most hidden indecorum before a public opinion of the absent and
    the dead.

    Of these two influences--that of Reason and that of Living
    Example--which would a wise reformer reinforce? Christ chose the
    last He gathered all men into a common relation to himself, and
    demanded that each should set him on the pedestal of his heart,
    giving a lower place to all other objects of worship, to father
    and mother, to husband or wife. In him should the loyalty of all
    hearts centre; he should be their pattern, their Authority and
    Judge. Of him and his service should no man be ashamed, but to
    those who acknowledged it morality should be an easy yoke, and the
    law of right as spontaneous as the law of life; sufferings should
    be easy to bear, and the loss of worldly friends repaired by a new
    home in the bosom of the Christian kingdom; finally, in death
    itself their sleep should be sweet upon whose tombstone it could
    be written "Obdormivit in Christo."

In his treatment of this part of the subject, the work of Christ as the
true Creator, through the Christian Church, of living morality, what is
peculiar and impressive is the way in which sympathy with Christianity
in its antique and original form, in its most austere, unearthly,
exacting aspects, is combined with sympathy with the practical
realities of modern life, with its boldness, its freedom, its love of
improvement, its love of truth. It is no common grasp which can embrace
both so easily and so firmly. He is one of those writers whose strong
hold on their ideas is shown by the facility with which they can afford
to make large admissions, which are at first sight startling. Nowhere
are more tremendous passages written than in this book about the
corruptions of that Christianity which yet the writer holds to be the
one hope and safeguard of mankind. He is not afraid to pursue his
investigation independently of any inquiry into the peculiar claims to
authority of the documents on which it rests. He at once goes to their
substance and their facts, and the Person and Life and Character which
they witness to. He is not afraid to put Faith on exactly the same
footing as Life, neither higher nor lower, as the title to membership
in the Church; a doctrine which, if it makes imperfect and rudimentary
faith as little a disqualification as imperfect and inconsistent life,
obviously does not exclude the further belief that deliberate heresy is
on the same level with deliberate profligacy. But the clear sense of
what is substantial, the power of piercing through accidents and
conditions to the real kernel of the matter, the scornful disregard of
all entanglement of apparent contradictions and inconsistencies, enable
him to bring out the lesson which he finds before him with overpowering
force. He sees before him immense mercy, immense condescension, immense
indulgence; but there are also immense requirements--requirements not
to be fulfilled by rule or exhausted by the lapse of time, and which
the higher they raise men the more they exact--an immense seriousness
and strictness, an immense care for substance and truth, to the
disregard, if necessary, of the letter and the form. The "Dispensation
of the Spirit" has seldom had an interpreter more in earnest and more
determined to see meaning in his words. We have room but for two
illustrations. He is combating the notion that the work of Christianity
and the Church nowadays is with the good, and that it is waste of hope
and strength to try to reclaim the bad and the lost:--

    Once more, however, the world may answer, Christ may be consistent
    in this, but is he wise? It may be true that he does demand an
    enthusiasm, and that such an enthusiasm may be capable of
    awakening the moral sense in hearts in which it seemed dead. But
    if, notwithstanding this demand, only a very few members of the
    Christian Church are capable of the enthusiasm, what use in
    imposing on the whole body a task which the vast majority are not
    qualified to perform? Would it not be well to recognise the fact
    which we cannot alter, and to abstain from demanding from frail
    human nature what human nature cannot render? Would it not be well
    for the Church to impose upon its ordinary members only ordinary
    duties? When the Bernard or the Whitefield appears let her by all
    means find occupation for him. Let her in such cases boldly invade
    the enemy's country. But in ordinary times would it not be well
    for her to confine herself to more modest and practicable
    undertakings? There is much for her to do even though she should
    honestly confess herself unable to reclaim the lost. She may
    reclaim the young, administer reproof to slight lapses, maintain a
    high standard of virtue, soften manners, diffuse enlightenment.
    Would it not be well for her to adapt her ends to her means?

    No, it would not be well; it would be fatal to do so; and Christ
    meant what he said, and said what was true, when he pronounced the
    Enthusiasm of Humanity to be everything, and the absence of it to
    be the absence of everything. The world understands its own
    routine well enough; what it does not understand is the mode of
    changing that routine. It has no appreciation of the nature or
    measure of the power of enthusiasm, and on this matter it learns
    nothing from experience, but after every fresh proof of that
    power, relapses from its brief astonishment into its old
    ignorance, and commits precisely the same miscalculation on the
    next occasion. The power of enthusiasm is, indeed, far from being
    unlimited; in some cases it is very small....

    But one power enthusiasm has almost without limit--the power of
    propagating itself; and it was for this that Christ depended on
    it. He contemplated a Church in which the Enthusiasm of Humanity
    should not be felt by two or three only, but widely. In whatever
    heart it might be kindled, he calculated that it would pass
    rapidly into other hearts, and that as it can make its heat felt
    outside the Church, so it would preserve the Church itself from
    lukewarmncss. For a lukewarm Church he would not condescend to
    legislate, nor did he regard it as at all inevitable that the
    Church should become lukewarm. He laid it as a duty upon the
    Church to reclaim the lost, because he did not think it utopian to
    suppose that the Church might be not in its best members only, but
    through its whole body, inspired by that ardour of humanity that
    can charm away the bad passions of the wildest heart, and open to
    the savage and the outlaw lurking in moral wildernesses an
    entrancing view of the holy and tranquil order that broods over
    the streets and palaces of the city of God....

    Christianity is an enthusiasm or it is nothing; and if there
    sometimes appear in the history of the Church instances of a tone
    which is pure and high without being enthusiastic, of a mood of
    Christian feeling which is calmly favourable to virtue without
    being victorious against vice, it will probably be found that all
    that is respectable in such a mood is but the slowly-subsiding
    movement of an earlier enthusiasm, and all that is produced by the
    lukewarmness of the time itself is hypocrisy and corrupt
    conventionalism.

    Christianity, then, would sacrifice its divinity if it abandoned
    its missionary character and became a mere educational
    institution. Surely this Article of Conversion is the true
    _articulus stantis aut cadentis ecclesiae_. When the power of
    reclaiming the lost dies out of the Church, it ceases to be the
    Church. It may remain a useful institution, though it is most
    likely to become an immoral and mischievous one. Where the power
    remains, there, whatever is wanting, it may still be said that
    "the tabernacle of God is with men."

One more passage about those who in all Churches and sects think that
all that Christ meant by His call was to give them a means to do what
the French call _faire son salut_:--

    It appears throughout the Sermon on the Mount that there was a
    class of persons whom Christ regarded with peculiar aversion--the
    persons who call themselves one thing and are another. He
    describes them by a word which originally meant an "actor."
    Probably it may in Christ's time have already become current in
    the sense which we give to the word "hypocrite." But no doubt
    whenever it was used the original sense of the word was distinctly
    remembered. And in this Sermon, whenever Christ denounces any
    vice, it is with the words "Be not you like the actors." In common
    with all great reformers, Christ felt that honesty in word and
    deed was the fundamental virtue; dishonesty, including
    affectation, self-consciousness, love of stage effect, the one
    incurable vice. Our thoughts, words, and deeds are to be of a
    piece. For example, if we would pray to God, let us go into some
    inner room where none but God shall see us; to pray at the corner
    of the streets, where the passing crowd may admire our devotion,
    is to _act_ a prayer. If we would keep down the rebellious flesh
    by fasting, this concerns ourselves only; it is acting to parade
    before the world our self-mortification. And if we would put down
    sin let us put it down in ourselves first; it is only the actor
    who begins by frowning at it in others. But there are subtler
    forms of hypocrisy, which Christ does not denounce, probably
    because they have sprung since out of the corruption of a subtler
    creed. The hypocrite of that age wanted simply money or credit
    with the people. His ends were those of the vulgar, though his
    means were different Christ endeavoured to cure both alike of
    their vulgarity by telling them of other riches and another
    happiness laid up in heaven. Some, of course, would neither
    understand nor regard his words, others would understand and
    receive them. But a third class would receive them without
    understanding them, and instead of being cured of their avarice
    and sensuality, would simply transfer them to new objects of
    desire. Shrewd enough to discern Christ's greatness, instinctively
    believing what he said to be true, they would set out with a
    triumphant eagerness in pursuit of the heavenly riches, and laugh
    at the short-sighted and weak-minded speculator who contented
    himself with the easy but insignificant profits of a worldly life.
    They would practise assiduously the rules by which Christ said
    heaven was to be won. They would patiently turn the left cheek,
    indefatigibly walk the two miles, they would bless with effusion
    those who cursed them, and pray fluently for those who used them
    spitefully. To love their enemies, to love any one, they would
    certainly find impossible, but the outward signs of love might
    easily be learnt. And thus there would arise a new class of
    actors, not like those whom Christ denounced, exhibiting before an
    earthly audience and receiving their pay from human managers, but
    hoping to be paid for their performance out of the incorruptible
    treasures, and to impose by their dramatic talent upon their
    Father in heaven.

We have said that one peculiarity of this work is the connection which
is kept in view from the first between the Founder and His work;
between Christ and the Christian Church. He finds it impossible to
speak of Him without that still existing witness of His having come,
which is only less wonderful and unique than Himself. This is where,
for the present, he leaves the subject:--

    For the New Jerusalem, as we witness it, is no more exempt from
    corruption than was the Old.... First the rottenness of dying
    superstitions, their barbaric manners, their intellectualism
    preferring system and debate to brotherhood, strangling
    Christianity with theories and framing out of it a charlatan's
    philosophy which madly tries to stop the progress of science--all
    these corruptions have in the successive ages of its long life
    infected the Church, and many new and monstrous perversions of
    individual character have disgraced it. The creed which makes
    human nature richer and larger makes men at the same time capable
    of profounder sins; admitted into a holier sanctuary, they are
    exposed to the temptation of a greater sacrilege; awakened to the
    sense of new obligations, they sometimes lose their simple respect
    for the old ones; saints that have resisted the subtlest
    temptations sometimes begin again, as it were, by yielding without
    a struggle to the coarsest; hypocrisy has become tenfold more
    ingenious and better supplied with disguises; in short, human
    nature has inevitably developed downwards as well as upwards, and
    if the Christian ages be compared with those of heathenism, they
    are found worse as well as better, and it is possible to make it a
    question whether mankind has gained on the whole....

    But the triumph of the Christian Church is that it is
    _there_--that the most daring of all speculative dreams, instead
    of being found impracticable, has been carried into effect, and
    when carried into effect, instead of being confined to a few
    select spirits, has spread itself over a vast space of the earth's
    surface, and when thus diffused, instead of giving place after an
    age or two to something more adapted to a later time, has endured
    for two thousand years, and at the end of two thousand years,
    instead of lingering as a mere wreck spared by the tolerance of
    the lovers of the past, still displays vigour and a capacity of
    adjusting itself to new conditions, and lastly, in all the
    transformations it undergoes, remains visibly the same thing and
    inspired by its Founder's universal and unquenchable spirit.

    It is in this and not in any freedom from abuses that the divine
    power of Christianity appears. Again, it is in this, and not in
    any completeness or all-sufficiency....

    But the achievement of Christ in founding by his single will and
    power a structure so durable and so universal, is like no other
    achievement which history records. The masterpieces of the men of
    action are coarse and common in comparison with it, and the
    masterpieces of speculation flimsy and insubstantial. When we
    speak of it the commonplaces of admiration fail us altogether.
    Shall we speak of the originality of the design, of the skill
    displayed in the execution? All such terms are inadequate.
    Originality and contriving skill operated indeed, but, as it were,
    implicitly. The creative effort which produced that against which,
    it is said, the gates of hell shall not prevail, cannot be
    analysed. No architects' designs were furnished for the New
    Jerusalem, no committee drew up rules for the Universal
    Commonwealth. If in the works of Nature we can trace the
    indications of calculation, of a struggle with difficulties, of
    precaution, of ingenuity, then in Christ's work it may be that the
    same indications occur. But these inferior and secondary powers
    were not consciously exercised; they were implicitly present in
    the manifold yet single creative act. The inconceivable work was
    done in calmness; before the eyes of men it was noiselessly
    accomplished, attracting little attention. Who can describe that
    which unites men? Who has entered into the formation of speech
    which is the symbol of their union? Who can describe exhaustively
    the origin of civil society? He who can do these things can
    explain the origin of the Christian Church. For others it must be
    enough to say, "the Holy Ghost fell on those that believed." No
    man saw the building of the New Jerusalem, the workmen crowded
    together, the unfinished walls and unpaved streets; no man heard
    the chink of trowel and pickaxe; it descended _out of heaven from
    God_.

And here we leave this remarkable book. It seems to us one of those
which permanently influence opinion, not so much by argument as such,
as by opening larger views of the familiar and the long-debated, by
deepening the ordinary channels of feeling, and by bringing men back to
seriousness and rekindling their admiration, their awe, their love,
about what they know best. We have not dwelt on minute criticisms about
points to which exception might be taken. We have not noticed even
positions on which, without further explanation, we should more or less
widely disagree. The general scope of it, and the seriousness as well
as the grandeur and power with which the main idea is worked out, seem
to make mere secondary objections intolerable. It is a fragment, with
the disadvantages of a fragment. What is put before us is far from
complete, and it needs to be completed. In part at least an answer has
been given to the question _what_ Christ was; but the question remains,
not less important, and of which the answer is only here foreshadowed,
_who_ He was. But so far as it goes, what it does is this: in the face
of all attempts to turn Christianity into a sentiment or a philosophy,
it asserts, in a most remarkable manner, a historical religion and a
historical Church; but it also seeks, in a manner equally remarkable,
to raise and elevate the thoughts of all, on all sides, about Christ,
as He showed Himself in the world, and about what Christianity was
meant to be; to touch new springs of feeling; to carry back the Church
to its "hidden fountains," and pierce through the veils which hide from
us the reality of the wonders in which it began.

The book is indeed a protest against the stiffness of all cast-iron
systems, and a warning against trusting in what is worn out. But it
shows how the modern world, so complex, so refined, so wonderful, is,
in all that it accounts good, but a reflection of what is described in
the Gospels, and its civilisation, but an application of the laws of
Christ, changing, it may be, indefinitely in outward form, but
depending on their spirit as its ever-living spring. If we have
misunderstood this book, and its cautious understatements are not
understatements at all, but represent the limits beyond which the
writer does not go, we can only say again it is one-of the strangest
among books. If we have not misunderstood him, we have before us a
writer who has a right to claim deference from those who think deepest
and know most, when he pleads before them that not Philosophy can save
and reclaim the world, but Faith in a Divine Person who is worthy of
it, allegiance to a Divine Society which He founded, and union of
hearts in the object for which He created it.



X

THE AUTHOR OF "ROBERT ELSMERE" ON A NEW REFORMATION[12]


  [12]
  _Guardian_, 6th March 1889.

Mrs. Ward, in the _Nineteenth Century_, develops with warmth and force
the theme and serious purpose of _Robert Elsmere_; and she does so,
using the same literary method which she used, certainly with effect,
in the story itself. Every age has its congenial fashion of discussing
the great questions which affect, or seem to affect, the fate of
mankind. According to the time and its circumstances, it is a _Summa
Theologiae_, or a _Divina Commedia_, or a _Novum Organum_, or a
Calvin's _Institutes_, or a Locke _On the Understanding_, or an
_Encyclopedia_, or a _Candide_, which sets people thinking more than
usual and comparing their thoughts. Long ago in the history of human
questioning, Plato and Cicero discovered the advantages over dry
argument of character and easy debate, and so much of story as clothed
abstractions and hard notions with human life and affections. It is a
weighty precedent. And as the prophetess of a "New Reformation" Mrs.
Ward has reverted to what is substantially the same method. She is
within her right. We do not blame her for putting her argument into the
shape of a novel, and bringing out the points of her case in the trials
and passionate utterances of imaginary persons, or in a conversation
about their mental history. But she must take the good with the bad.
Such a method has its obvious advantages, in freedom, and convenience,
and range of illustration. It has its disadvantages. The dealer in
imagination may easily become the unconscious slave of imagination;
and, living in a self-constructed world, may come to forget that there
is any other; and the temptation to unfairness becomes enormous when
all who speak, on one side or the other, only speak as you make or let
them speak.

It is to imagination that _Robert Elsmere_ makes its main appeal,
undoubtedly a powerful and pathetic one. It bids us ask ourselves what,
with the phenomena before us, we can conceive possible and real. It
implies, of course, much learning, with claims of victory in the
spheres of history and science, with names great in criticism, of whom
few readers probably can estimate the value, though all may be affected
by the formidable array. But it is not in these things, as with a book
like _Supernatural Religion_, that the gist of the argument lies. The
alleged results of criticism are taken for granted; whether rightly or
wrongly the great majority of readers certainly cannot tell. But then
the effect of the book, or the view which it represents, begins.
Imagine a man, pure-minded, earnest, sensitive, self-devoted, plunged
into the tremendous questions of our time. Bit by bit he finds what he
thought to be the truth of truths breaking away. In the darkness and
silence with which nature covers all beyond the world of experience he
thought he had found light and certainty from on high. He thought that
he had assurances and pledges which could not fail him, that God was in
the world, governed it, loved it, showed Himself in it He thought he
had a great and authentic story to fall back upon, and a Sacred Book,
which was its guaranteed witness, and by which God still spoke to his
soul. He thought that, whatever he did not know, he knew this, and this
was a hope to live and die in; with all that he saw round him, of pain
and sin and misery, here was truth on which he could rest secure, in
his fight with evil. Like the rest of us, he knew that terrible,
far-reaching, heart-searching questions were abroad; that all that to
him was sacred and unapproachable in its sanctity was not so to
all--was not so, perhaps, to men whom he felt to be stronger and more
knowing than himself--was not so, perhaps, to some who seemed to him to
stand, in character and purpose, at a moral height above him. Still he
thought himself in full possession of the truth which God had given
him, till at length, in one way or another, the tide of questioning
reached him. Then begins the long agony. He hears that what he never
doubted is said to be incredible, and is absolutely given up. He finds
himself bin-rounded by hostile powers of thought, by an atmosphere
which insensibly but irresistibly governs opinion, by doubt and denial
in the air, by keen and relentless intellect, before which he can only
he silent; he sees and hears all round the disintegrating process going
on in the creeds and institutions and intellectual statements of
Christianity. He is assured, and sees some reason to believe it, that
the intellect of the day is against him and his faith; and further,
that unreality taints everything, belief and reasoning, and profession
and conduct Step by step he is forced from one position and another;
the process was a similar and a familiar one when the great Roman
secession was going on fifty years ago. But now, in Robert Elsmere,
comes the upshot. He is not landed, as some logical minds have been,
which have gone through the same process, in mere unbelief or
indifference. He is too good for that. Something of his old
Christianity is too deeply engrained in him. He cannot go back from the
moral standard to which it accustomed him. He will serve God in a
Christian spirit and after the example of Christ, though not in what
can claim to be called a Christian way. He is the beginner of one more
of the numberless attempts to find a new mode of religion, purer than
any of the old ones could be--of what Mrs. Ward calls in her new paper
"A New Reformation."

In this paper, which is more distinctly a dialogue on the Platonic
model, she isolates the main argument on which the story was based, but
without any distinct reference to any of the criticisms on her book.
_Robert Elsmere_ rests on the achievements of historic criticism,
chiefly German criticism. From the traditional, old-fashioned Christian
way of regarding and using the old records which we call the Bible, the
ground, we are told, is hopelessly and for ever cut away by German
historical criticism. And the difference between the old and the modern
way of regarding and using them is expressed by the difference between
_bad translation_ and _good_; the old way of reading, quoting, and
estimating ancient documents of all kinds was purblind, lifeless,
narrow, mechanical, whereas the modern comparative and critical method
not only is more sure in important questions of authenticity, but puts
true life and character and human feeling and motives into the
personages who wrote these documents, and of whom they speak. These
books were entirely misunderstood, even if people knew the meaning of
their words; now, at last, we can enter into their real spirit and
meaning. And where such a change of method and point of view, as
regards these documents, is wholesale and sweeping, it involves a
wholesale and sweeping change in all that is founded on them. Revised
ideas about the Bible mean a revised and reconstructed Christianity--"A
New Reformation."

Mrs. Ward lays more stress than everybody will agree to on what she
likens to the difference between _good translation_ and _bad_, in
dealing with the materials of history. Doubtless, in our time, the
historical imagination, like the historical conscience, has been
awakened. In history, as in other things, the effort after the real and
the living has been very marked; it has sometimes resulted, as we know,
in that parading of the real which we call the realistic. The mode of
telling a story or stating a case varies, even characteristically, from
age to age, from Macaulay to Hume, from Hume to Rapin, from Rapin to
Holinshed or Hall; but after all, the story in its main features
remains, after allowing for the differences in the mode of presenting
it. German criticism, to which we are expected to defer, has its mode.
It combines two elements--a diligent, searching, lawyer-like habit of
cross-examination, laborious, complete and generally honest, which,
when it is not spiteful or insolent, deserves all the praise it
receives; but with it a sense of the probable, in dealing with the
materials collected, and a straining after attempts to construct
theories and to give a vivid reality to facts and relations, which are
not always so admirable; which lead, in fact, sometimes to the height
of paradox, or show mere incapacity to deal with the truth and depth of
life, or make use of a poor and mean standard--_mesquin_ would be the
French word--in the interpretation of actions and aims. It has
impressed on us the lesson--not to be forgotten when we read Mrs.
Ward's lists of learned names--that weight and not number is the test
of good evidence. German learning is decidedly imposing. But after all
there are Germans and Germans; and with all that there has been of
great in German work there has been also a large proportion of what is
bad--conceited, arrogant, shallow, childish. German criticism has been
the hunting-ground of an insatiable love of sport--may we not say,
without irreverence, the scene of the discovery of a good many mares'
nests? When the question is asked, why all this mass of criticism has
made so little impression on English thought, the answer is, because of
its extravagant love of theorising, because of its divergences and
variations, because of its negative results. Those who have been so
eager to destroy have not been so successful in construction. Clever
theories come to nothing; streams which began with much noise at last
lose themselves in the sand. Undoubtedly, it presents a very important,
and, in many ways, interesting class of intellectual phenomena, among
the many groups of such inquiries, moral, philosophical, scientific,
political, social, of which the world is full, and of which no sober
thinker expects to see the end. If this vaunted criticism is still left
to scholars, it is because it is still in the stage in which only
scholars are competent to examine and judge it; it is not fit to be a
factor in the practical thought and life of the mass of mankind.
Answers, and not merely questions, are what we want, who have to live,
and work, and die. Criticism has pulled about the Bible without
restraint or scruple. We are all of us steeped in its daring
assumptions and shrewd objections. Have its leaders yet given us an
account which it is reasonable to receive, clear, intelligible,
self-consistent and consistent with all the facts, of what this
mysterious book is?

Meanwhile, in the face of theories and conjectures and negative
arguments, there is something in the world which is fact, and hard
fact. The Christian Church is the most potent fact in the most
important ages of the world's progress. It is an institution like the
world itself, which has grown up by its own strength and according to
its own principle of life, full of good and evil, having as the law of
its fate to be knocked about in the stern development of events,
exposed, like human society, to all kinds of vicissitudes and
alternations, giving occasion to many a scandal, and shaking the faith
and loyalty of many a son, showing in ample measure the wear and tear
of its existence, battered, injured, sometimes degenerate, sometimes
improved, in one way or another, since those dim and long distant days
when its course began; but showing in all these ways what a real thing
it is, never in the extremity of storms and ruin, never in the deepest
degradation of its unfaithfulness, losing hold of its own central
unchanging faith, and never in its worst days of decay and corruption
losing hold of the power of self-correction and hope of recovery.
_Solvitur ambulando_ is an argument to which Mrs. Ward appeals, in
reply to doubts about the solidity of the "New Reformation." It could
be urged more modestly if the march of the "New Reformation" had lasted
for even half of one of the Christian centuries. The Church is in the
world, as the family is in the world, as the State is in the world, as
morality is in the world, a fact of the same order and greatness. Like
these it has to make its account with the "all-dissolving" assaults of
human thought. Like these it has to prove itself by living, and it does
do so. In all its infinite influences and ministries, in infinite
degrees and variations, it is the public source of light and good and
hope. If there are select and aristocratic souls who can do without it,
or owe it nothing, the multitude of us cannot. And the Christian Church
is founded on a definite historic fact, that Jesus Christ who was
crucified rose from the dead; and, coming from such an author, it comes
to us, bringing with it the Bible. The fault of a book like _Robert
Elsmere_ is that it is written with a deliberate ignoring that these
two points are not merely important, but absolutely fundamental, in the
problems with which it deals. With these not faced and settled it is
like looking out at a prospect through a window of which all the glass
is ribbed and twisted, distorting everything. It may be that even yet
we imperfectly understand our wondrous Bible. It may be that we have
yet much to learn about it. It may be that there is much that is very
difficult about it. Let us reverently and fearlessly learn all we can
about it. Let us take care not to misuse it, as it has been terribly
misused. But coming to us from the company and with the sanction of
Christ risen, it never can be merely like other books. A so-called
Christianity, ignoring or playing with Christ's resurrection, and using
the Bible as a sort of Homer, may satisfy a class of clever and
cultivated persons. It may be to them the parent of high and noble
thoughts, and readily lend itself to the service of mankind. But it is
well in so serious a matter not to confuse things. This new religion
may borrow from Christianity as it may borrow from Plato, or from
Buddhism, or Confucianism, or even Islam. But it is not Christianity.
_Robert Elsmere_ may be true to life, as representing one of those
tragedies which happen in critical moments of history. But a
Christianity which tells us to think of Christ doing good, but to
forget and put out of sight Christ risen from the dead, is not true to
life. It is as delusive to the conscience and the soul as it is
illogical to reason.



XI

RENAN'S "VIE DE JÉSUS"[13]


  [13]
  _Histoire des Origines du Christianisme_. Livre I.--_Vie de Jésus_.
  Par Ernest Renan. _Guardian_, 9th September 1863.

Unbelief is called upon nowadays, as well as belief, to give its
account of the origin of that undeniable and most important fact which
we call the Christian religion. And if it is true that in some respects
the circumstances under which the controversy is carried on are, as it
has been alleged, more than heretofore favourable to unbelief, it is
also true that in some other respects the case of unbelief has
difficulties which it had not once. It has to accept and admit, if it
wishes to gain a favourable hearing from the present generation, the
unique and surpassing moral grandeur, depth, and attractiveness of
Christianity. The polemic method which set Christianity in broad
contrast with what was supposed to be best and highest in human nature,
and therefore found no difficulty in tracing to a bad source what was
itself represented to be bad, is not a method suited to the ideas and
feelings of our time; and the sneers and sarcasms of the last century,
provoked by abuses and inconsistencies which have since received their
ample and memorable punishment, cease to produce any effect on readers
of the present day, except to call forth a passing feeling of
repugnance at what is shallow and profane, mixed, it may be, sometimes,
with an equally passing admiration for what is witty and brilliant.
Even in M. Renan's view, Voltaire has done his work, and is out of
date. Those who now attack Christianity have to attack it under the
disadvantage of the preliminary admission that its essential and
distinguishing elements are, on the whole, in harmony and not in
discordance with the best conceptions of human duty and life, and that
its course and progress have been, at any rate, concurrent with all
that is best and most hopeful in human history. First allowing that as
a fact it contains in it things than which we cannot imagine anything
better, and without which we should never have reached to where we are,
they then have to dispute its divine claims. No man could write
persuasively on religion now, _against_ it any more than _for_ it, who
did not show that he was fully penetrated not only with its august and
beneficent aspect, but with the essential and everlasting truths which,
in however imperfect shapes, or whencesoever derived, are embodied in
it and are ministered by it to society.

That Christianity is, as a matter of fact, a successful and a living
religion, in a degree absolutely without parallel in any other
religion, is the point from which its assailants have now to start.
They have also to take account of the circumstance, to the recognition
of which the whole course of modern thought and inquiry has brought us,
that it has been successful, not by virtue merely of any outward and
accidental favouring circumstances, but of its intrinsic power and of
principles which are inseparable from its substance. This being the
condition of the question, those who deny its claim to a direct Divine
origin have to frame their theory of it so as to account, on principles
supposed to be common to it and other religions, not merely for its
rise and its conquests, but for those broad and startling differences
which separate it, in character and in effects, from all other known
religions. They have to show how that which is instinct with
never-dying truth sprang out of what was false and mistaken, if not
corrupt; how that which alone has revealed God to man's conscience had
no other origin than what in other instances has led men through
enthusiasm and imposture to a barren or a mischievous superstition.

Such an attempt is the work before us--a work destined, probably, both
from its ability and power and from its faults, to be for modern France
what the work of Strauss was for Germany, the standard expression of an
unbelief which shrinks with genuine distaste from the coarse and
negative irreligion of older infidelity, and which is too refined, too
profound and sympathetic in its views of human nature, to be insensible
to those numberless points in which as a fact Christianity has given
expression to the best and highest thoughts that man can have. Strauss,
to account for what we see, imagined an idea, or a set of ideas,
gradually worked out into the shape of a history, of which scarcely
anything can be taken as real matter of fact, except the bare existence
of the person who was clothed in the process of time with the
attributes created by the idealising legend. Such a view is too vague
and indistinct to satisfy French minds. A theory of this sort, to find
general acceptance in France, must start with concrete history, and not
be history held in solution in the cloudy shapes of myths which vanish
as soon as touched. M. Renan's process is in the main the reverse of
Strauss's. He undertakes to extract the real history recorded in the
Gospels; and not only so, but to make it even more palpable and
interesting, if not more wonderful, than it seems at first sight in the
original records, by removing the crust of mistake and exaggeration
which has concealed the true character of what the narrative records;
by rewriting it according to those canons of what is probable and
intelligible in human life and capacity which are recognised in the
public whom he addresses.

Two of these canons govern the construction of the book. One of them is
the assumption that in no part of the history of man is the
supernatural to be admitted. This, of course, is not peculiar to M.
Renan, though he lays it down with such emphasis in all his works, and
is so anxious to bring it into distinct notice on every occasion, that
it is manifestly one which he is desirous to impress on all who read
him, as one of the ultimate and unquestionable foundations of all
historical inquiry. The other canon is one of moral likelihood, and it
is, that it is credible and agreeable to what we gather from
experience, that the highest moral elevation ever attained by man
should have admitted along with it, and for its ends, conscious
imposture. On the first of these assumptions, all that is miraculous in
the Gospel narratives is, not argued about, or, except perhaps in one
instance--the raising of Lazarus--attempted to be accounted for or
explained, but simply left out and ignored. On the second, the fact
from which there is no escape--that He whom M. Renan venerates with a
sincerity which no one can doubt as the purest and greatest of moral
reformers, did claim power from God to work miracles--is harmonised
with the assumption that the claim could not possibly have been a true
one.

M. Renan professes to give an historical account of the way in which
the deepest, purest, most enduring religious principles known among men
were, not merely found out and announced, but propagated and impressed
upon the foremost and most improved portions of mankind, by the power
of a single character. It is impossible, without speaking of Jesus of
Nazareth as Christians are used to do, to speak of His character and of
the results of His appearance in loftier terms than this professed
unbeliever in His Divine claims. But when the account is drawn out in
detail, of a cause alleged to be sufficient to produce such effects,
the apparent inadequacy of it is most startling. When we think of what
Christianity is and has done, and that, in M. Renan's view, Christ, the
Christ whom he imagines and describes, is all in all to Christianity,
and then look to what he conceives to have been the original spring and
creative impulse of its achievements, the first feeling is that no
shifts that belief has sometimes been driven to, to keep within the
range of the probable, are greater than those accepted by unbelief, in
its most enlightened and reflecting representations. To suppose such an
one as M. Renan paints, changing the whole course of history,
overturning and converting the world, and founding the religion which
M. Renan thinks the lasting religion of mankind, involves a force upon
our imagination and reason to which it is not easy to find a parallel.

His view is that a Galilean peasant, in advance of his neighbours and
countrymen only in the purity, force, and singleness of purpose with
which he realised the highest moral truths of Jewish religious wisdom,
first charming a few simple provincials by the freshness and native
beauty of his lessons, was then led on, partly by holy zeal against
falsehood and wickedness, partly by enthusiastic delusions as to his
own mission and office, to attack the institutions of Judaism, and
perished in the conflict--and that this was the cause why Christianity
and Christendom came to be and exist. This is the explanation which a
great critical historian, fully acquainted with the history of other
religions, presents, as a satisfactory one, of a phenomenon so
astonishing and unique as that of a religion which has suited itself
with undiminished vitality to the changes, moral, social, and
political, which have marked the eighteen centuries of European
history. There have been other enthusiasts for goodness and truth, more
or less like the character which M. Renan draws in his book, but they
have never yet founded a universal religion, or one which had the
privilege of perpetual youth and unceasing self-renovation. There have
been other great and imposing religions, commanding the allegiance for
century after century of millions of men; but who will dare assert that
any of these religions, that of Sakya-Mouni, of Mahomet, or that of the
Vedas, could possibly be the religion, or satisfy the religious ideas
and needs, of the civilised West?

When M. Renan comes to detail he is as strangely insensible to what seem
at first sight the simplest demands of probability. As it were by a sort
of reaction to the minute realising of particulars which has been in
vogue among some Roman Catholic writers, M. Renan realises too--realises
with no less force and vividness, and, according to his point of view,
with no less affectionate and tender interest. He popularises the
Gospels; but not for a religious set of readers--nor, we must add, for
readers of thought and sense, whether interested for or against
Christianity, but for a public who study life in the subtle and highly
wrought novels of modern times. He appeals from what is probable to
those representations of human nature which aspire to pass beyond the
conventional and commonplace, and especially he dwells on neglected and
unnoticed examples of what is sweet and soft and winning. But it is hard
to recognise the picture he has drawn in the materials out of which he
has composed it. The world is tolerably familiar with them. If there is
a characteristic, consciously or unconsciously acknowledged in the
Gospel records, it is that of the gravity, the plain downright
seriousness, the laborious earnestness, impressed from first to last on
the story. When we turn from these to his pages it is difficult to
exaggerate the astounding impression which his epithets and descriptions
have on the mind. We are told that there is a broad distinction between
the early Galilean days of hope in our Lord's ministry, and the later
days of disappointment and conflict; and that if we look, we shall find
in Galilee the "_fin et joyeux moraliste_," full of a "_conversation
pleine de gaieté et de charme_," of "_douce gaieté et aimables
plaisanteries_," with a "_prédication suave et douce, toute pleine de la
nature et du parfum des champs_," creating out of his originality of
mind his "_innocents aphorismes_," and the "_genre d'élicieux_" of
parabolic teaching; "_le charmant docteur qui pardonnait à tous pourvu
qu'on l'aimât_." He lived in what was then an earthly paradise, in "_la
joyeuse Galilée_" in the midst of the "_nature ravissante_" which gave
to everything about the Sea of Galilee "_un tour idyllique et
charmant_." So the history of Christianity at its birth is a
"_délicieuse pastorale_" an "_idylle_," a "_milieu enivrant_" of joy and
hope. The master was surrounded by a "_bande de joyeux enfants_," a
"_troupe gaie et vagabonde_," whose existence in the open air was a
"perpetual enchantment." The disciples were "_ces petits comités de
bonnes gens_," very simple, very credulous, and like their country full
of a "_sentiment gai et tendre de la vie_," and of an "_imagination
riante_." Everything is spoken of as "delicious"--"_délicieuse
pastorale," "délicieuse beauté," "délicieuses sentences," "délicieuse
théologie d'amour_." Among the "tender and delicate souls of the
North"--it is not quite thus that Josephus describes the Galileans--was
set up an "_aimable communisme_." Is it possible to imagine a more
extravagant distortion than the following, both in its general effect
and in the audacious generalisation of a very special incident, itself
inaccurately conceived of?--

    Il parcourait ainsi la Galilée au milieu _d'une fête perpétuelle_.
    Il se servait d'une mule, monture en Orient si bonne et si sûre,
    et dont le grand oeil noir, ombragé de longs cils, a beaucoup de
    douceur. Ses disciples déployarent quelquefois autour de lui une
    pompe rustique, dont leurs vêtements, tenant lieu de tapis,
    faisaient les frais. Ils les mettaient sur la mule qui le portait,
    ou les étendaient à terre sur son passage.

History has seen strange hypotheses; but of all extravagant notions,
that one that the world has been conquered by what was originally an
idyllic gipsying party is the most grotesque. That these "_petits
comités de bonnes gens_" though influenced by a great example and
wakened out of their "delicious pastoral" by a heroic death, should
have been able to make an impression on Judaean faith, Greek intellect,
and Roman civilisation, and to give an impulse to mankind which has
lasted to this day, is surely one of the most incredible hypotheses
ever accepted, under the desperate necessity of avoiding an unwelcome
alternative.

M. Renan is willing to adopt everything in the Gospel history except
what is miraculous. If he is difficult to satisfy as to the physical
possibility or the proof of miracles, at least he is not hard to
satisfy on points of moral likelihood; and he draws on his ample power
of supposing the combination of moral opposites in order to get rid of
the obstinate and refractory supernatural miracle. To some extent,
indeed, he avails himself of that inexhaustible resource of unlimited
guessing, by means of which he reverses the whole history, and makes it
take a shape which it is hard to recognise in its original records. The
feeding of the five thousand, the miracle described by all the four
Evangelists, is thus curtly disposed of:--"Il se retira au désert.
Beaucoup de monde l'y suivit. _Grâce à une extrème frugalité_ la troupe
sainte y vécut; _on crut naturellement_ voir en cela un miracle." This
is all he has to say. But miracles are too closely interwoven with the
whole texture of the Gospel history to be, as a whole, thus disposed
of. He has, of course, to admit that miracles are so mixed up with it
that mere exaggeration is not a sufficient account of them. But be bids
us remember that the time was one of great credulity, of slackness and
incapacity in dealing with matters of evidence, a time when it might be
said that there was an innocent disregard of exact and literal truth
where men's souls and affections were deeply interested. But, even
supposing that this accounted for a belief in certain miracles growing
up--which it does not, for the time was not one of mere childlike and
uninquiring belief, but was as perfectly familiar as we are with the
notion of false claims to miraculous power which could not stand
examination--still this does not meet the great difficulty of all, to
which he is at last brought. It is undeniable that our Lord professed
to work miracles. They were not merely attributed to Him by those who
came after Him. If we accept in any degree the Gospel account, He not
only wrought miracles, but claimed to do so; and M. Renan admits
it--that is, he admits that the highest, purest, most Divine person
ever seen on earth (for all this he declares in the most unqualified
terms) stooped to the arts of Simon Magus or Apollonius of Tyana. He
was a "thaumaturge"--"tard et à contre-coeur"--"avec une sorte de
mauvaise humeur"--"en cachette"--"malgré lui"--"sentant le vanité de
l'opinion"; but still a "thaumaturge." Moreover, He was so almost of
necessity; for M. Renan holds that without the support of an alleged
supernatural character and power, His work must have perished.
Everything, to succeed and be realised, must, we are told, be fortified
with something of alloy. We are reminded of the "loi fatale qui
condamne l'idée à déchoir dès qu'elle cherche à convertir les hommes."
"Concevoir de bien, en efifet, ne suffit pas; il faut le faire réussir
parmi les hommes. Pour cela, des voies moins pures sont nécessaires."
If the Great Teacher had kept to the simplicity of His early lessons,
He would have been greater, but "the truth would not have been
promulgated." "He had to choose between these two alternatives, either
renouncing his mission or becoming a 'thaumaturge.'" The miracles
"were a violence done to him by his age, a concession which was wrung
from him by a passing necessity." And if we feel startled at such a
view, we are reminded that we must not measure the sincerity of
Orientals by our own rigid and critical idea of veracity; and that
"such is the weakness of the human mind, that the best causes are not
usually won but by bad reasons," and that the greatest of discoverers
and founders have only triumphed over their difficulties "by daily
taking account of men's weakness and by not always giving the true
reasons of the truth."

    L'histoire est impossible si l'on n'admet hautement qu'il y a pour
    la sincerite plusieurs mesures. Toutes les grandes choses se font
    par le peuple, or on ne conduit pas le peuple qu'en se prétant à
    ses idées. Le philosophe, qui sachant cela, s'isole et se
    retranche dans sa noblesse, est hautement louable. Mais celui qui
    prend l'humanité avec ses illusions et cherche à agir sur elle et
    avec elle, ne saurait être blamé. César savait fort bien qu'il
    n'était pas fils de Vénus; la France ne serait pas ce qu'elle est
    si l'on n'avait cru mille ans à la sainte ampoule de Reims. Il
    nous est facile à nous autres, impuissants que nous sommes,
    d'appeler cela mensonge, et fiers de notre timide honnêteté, de
    traiter avec dédain les héros qui out accepté dans d'autres
    conditions la lutte de la vie. Quand nous aurons fait avec nos
    scrupules ce qu'ils firent avec leurs mensonges, nous aurons le
    droit d'être pour eux sévères.

Now let M. Renan or any one else realise what is involved, on his
supposition, not merely, as he says, of "illusion or madness," but of
wilful deceit and falsehood, in the history of Lazarus, even according
to his lame and hesitating attempt to soften it down and extenuate it;
and then put side by side with it the terms in which M. Renan has
summed up the moral greatness of Him of whom he writes:--

    La foi, l'enthousiasme, la constance de la première génération
    chrétienne ne s'expliquent qu'en supposant à l'origine de tout le
    mouvement un homme de proportions colossales.... Cette sublime
    personne, qui chaque jour préside encore au destin du monde, il
    est permis de l'appeler divine, non en ce sens que Jésus ait
    absorbé tout le divin, mais en ce sens que Jésus est l'individu
    qui a fait faire à son espèce le plus grand pas vers le divin....
    Au milieu de cette uniforme vulgarité, des colonnes s'élèvent vers
    le ciel et attestent une plus noble destinée. Jésus est la plus
    haute de ces colonnes qui montrent à l'homme d'où il vient et où
    il doit tendre. En lui s'est condensé tout ce qu'il y a de bon et
    d'élevé dans notre nature.... Quels que puissent être les
    phénomènes inattendus de l'avenir, Jésus ne sera pas surpassé....
    Tous les siècles proclameront qu'entre les fils des hommes il n'en
    est pas né de plus grand que Jésus.

And of such an one we are told that it is a natural and reasonable view
to take, not merely that He claimed a direct communication with God,
which disordered reason could alone excuse Him for claiming, but that
He based His whole mission on a pretension to such supernatural powers
as a man could not pretend to without being conscious that they were
delusions. The conscience of that age as to veracity or imposture was
quite clear on such a point. Jew and Greek and Roman would have
condemned as a deceiver one who, not having the power, took on him to
say that by the finger of God he could raise the dead. And yet to a
conscience immeasurably above his age, it seems, according to M. Renan,
that this might be done. It is absurd to say that we must not judge
such a proceeding by the ideas of our more exact and truth-loving age,
when it would have been abundantly condemned by the ideas recognised in
the religion and civilisation of the first century.

M. Renan repeatedly declares that his great aim is to save religion by
relieving it of the supernatural. He does not argue; but instead of the
old familiar view of the Great History, he presents an opposite theory
of his own, framed to suit that combination of the revolutionary and
the sentimental which just now happens to be in favour in the unbelieving
schools. And this is the result: a representation which boldly invests
its ideal with the highest perfections of moral goodness, strength, and
beauty, and yet does not shrink from associating with it also--and
that, too, as the necessary and inevitable condition of success--a
deliberate and systematic willingness to delude and insensibility to
untruth. This is the religion and this is the reason which appeals to
Christ in order to condemn Christianity.



XII

RENAN'S "LES APÔTRES"[14]


  [14]
  _Histoire des Origines du Christianisme_. Livre II.--_Les Apôtres_.
  Par Ernest Renan. _Saturday Review_, 14th July 1866.

In his recent volume, _Les Apôtres_, M. Renan has undertaken two tasks
of very unequal difficulty. He accounts for the origin of the Christian
belief and religion, and he writes the history of its first
propagation. These are very different things, and to do one of them is
by no means to do the other. M. Renan's historical sketch of the first
steps of the Christian movement is, whatever we may think of its
completeness and soundness, a survey of characters and facts, based on
our ordinary experience of the ways in which men act and are
influenced. Of course it opens questions and provokes dissent at every
turn; but, after all, the history of a religion once introduced into
the world is the history of the men who give it shape and preach it,
who accept or oppose it. The spread and development of all religions
have certain broad features in common, which admit of philosophical
treatment simply as phenomena, and receive light from being compared
with parallel examples of the same kind; and whether a man's historical
estimate is right, and his picture accurate and true, depends on his
knowledge of the facts, and his power to understand them and to make
them understood. No one can dispute M. Renan's qualifications for being
the historian of a religious movement. The study of religion as a
phenomenon of human nature and activity has paramount attractions for
him. His interest in it has furnished him with ample and varied
materials for comparison and generalisation. He is a scholar and a man
of learning, quick and wide in his sympathies, and he commands
attention by the singular charm of his graceful and lucid style. When,
therefore, he undertakes to relate how, as a matter of fact, the
Christian Church grew up amid the circumstances of its first
appearance, he has simply to tell the story of the progress of a
religious cause; and this is a comparatively light task for him. But he
also lays before us what he appears to consider an adequate account of
the origin of the Christian belief. The Christian belief, it must be
remembered, means, not merely the belief that there was such a person
as he has described in his former, volume, but the belief that one who
was crucified rose again from the dead, and lives for evermore above.
It is in this belief that the Christian religion had its beginning;
there is no connecting Christ and Christianity, except through the
Resurrection. The origin, therefore, of the belief in the Resurrection,
in the shape in which we have it, lies across M. Renan's path to
account for; and neither the picture which he has drawn in his former
volume, nor the history which he follows out in this, dispense him from
the necessity of facing this essential and paramount element in the
problem which he has to solve. He attempts to deal with this, the knot
of the great question. But his attempt seems to us to disclose a more
extraordinary insensibility to the real demands of the case, and to
what we cannot help calling the pitiable inadequacy of his own
explanation, than we could have conceived possible in so keen and
practised a mind.

The Resurrection, we repeat, bars the way in M. Renan's scheme for
making an intelligible transition, from the life and character which he
has sought to reproduce from the Gospels, to the first beginnings and
preaching of Christianity. The Teacher, he says, is unique in wisdom,
in goodness, in the height of his own moral stature and the Divine
elevation of his aims. The religion is, with all abatements and
imperfections, the only one known which could be the religion of
humanity. After his portraiture of the Teacher, follows, naturally
enough, as the result of that Teacher's influence and life, a religion
of corresponding elevation and promise. The passage from a teaching
such as M. Renan supposes to a religion such as he allows Christianity
to be may be reasonably understood as a natural consequence of
well-known causes, but for one thing--the interposition between the two
of an alleged event which simply throws out all reasonings drawn from
ordinary human experience. From the teaching and life of Socrates
follow, naturally enough, schools of philosophy, and an impulse which
has affected scientific thought ever since. From the preaching and life
of Mahomet follows, equally naturally, the religion of Islam. In each
case the result is seen to be directly and distinctly linked on to the
influences which gave it birth, and nothing more than these influences
is wanted, or makes any claim, to account for it. So M. Renan holds
that all that is needed to account for Christianity is such a
personality and such a career as he has described in his last volume.
But the facts will not bend to this. Christianity hangs on to Christ
not merely as to a Person who lived and taught and died, but as to a
Person who rose again from death. That is of the very essence of its
alleged derivation from Christ. It knows Christ only as Christ risen;
the only reason of its own existence that it recognises is the
Resurrection. The only claim the Apostles set forth for preaching to
the world is that their Master who was crucified was alive once more.
Every one knows that this was the burden of all their words, the
corner-stone of all their work. We may believe them or not. We may take
Christianity or leave it. But we cannot derive Christianity from
Christ, without meeting, as the bond which connects the two, the
Resurrection. But for the Resurrection, M. Renan's scheme might be
intelligible. A Teacher unequalled for singleness of aim and nobleness
of purpose lives and dies, and leaves the memory and the leaven of His
teaching to disciples, who by them, even though in an ill-understood
shape, and with incomparably inferior qualities themselves, purify and
elevate the religious ideas and feelings of mankind. If that were all,
if there were nothing but the common halo of the miraculous which is
apt to gather about great names, the interpretation might be said to be
coherent. But a theory of Christianity cannot neglect the most
prominent fact connected with its beginning. It is impossible to leave
it out of the account, in judging both of the Founder and of those whom
his influence moulded and inspired.

M. Renan has to account for the prominence given to the Resurrection in
the earliest Christian teaching, without having recourse to the
supposition of conscious imposture and a deliberate conspiracy to
deceive; for such a supposition would not harmonise either with the
portrait he has drawn of the Master, or with his judgment of the
seriousness and moral elevation of the men who, immeasurably inferior
as they were to Him, imbibed His spirit, and represented and
transmitted to us His principles. And this is something much more than
can be accounted for by the general disposition of the age to assume
the supernatural and the miraculous. The way in which the Resurrection
is circumstantially and unceasingly asserted, and made on every
occasion and from the first the foundation of everything, is something
very different from the vague legends which float about of kings or
saints whom death has spared, or from a readiness to see the direct
agency of heaven in health or disease. It is too precise, too
matter-of-fact, too prosaic in the way in which it is told, to be
resolved into ill-understood dreams and imaginations. The various
recitals show little care to satisfy our curiosity, or to avoid the
appearance of inconsistency in detail; but nothing can be more removed
from vagueness and hesitation than their definite positive statements.
It is with them that the writer on Christianity has to deal.

M. Renan's method is--whilst of course not believing them, yet not
supposing conscious fraud--to treat these records as the description of
natural, unsought visions on the part of people who meant no harm, but
who believed what they wished to believe. They are the story of a great
mistake, but a mistake proceeding simply, in the most natural way in
the world, from excess of "idealism" and attachment. Unaffected by the
circumstance that there never were narratives less ideal, and more
straightforwardly real--that they seem purposely framed to be a
contrast to professed accounts of visions, and to exclude the
possibility of their being confounded with such accounts; and that the
alleged numbers who saw, the alleged frequency and repetition and
variation of the instances, and the alleged time over which the
appearances extended, and after which they absolutely ceased, make the
hypothesis of involuntary and undesigned allusions of regret and
passion infinitely different from what it might be in the case of one
or two persons, or for a transitory period of excitement and
crisis--unaffected by such considerations, M. Renan proceeds to tell,
in his own way, the story of what he supposes to have occurred,
without, of course, admitting the smallest real foundation for what was
so positively asserted, but with very little reproach or discredit to
the ardent and undoubting assertors. He begins with a statement which
is meant to save the character of the Teacher. "Jesus, though he spoke
unceasingly of resurrection, of new life, had never said quite clearly
that he should rise again in the flesh." He says this with the texts
before him, for he quotes them and classifies them in a note. But this
is his point of departure, laid down without qualification. Yet if
there is anything which the existing records do say distinctly, it is
that Jesus Christ said over and over again that He should rise again,
and that He fixed the time within which He should rise. M. Renan is not
bound to believe them. But he must take them as he finds them; and on
this capital point either we know nothing at all, and have no evidence
to go upon, or the evidence is simply inverted by M. Renan's assertion.
There may, of course, be reasons for believing one part of a man's
evidence and disbelieving another; but there is nothing in this case
but incompatibility with a theory to make this part of the evidence
either more or less worthy of credit than any other part. What is
certain is that it is in the last degree weak and uncritical to lay
down, as the foundation and first pre-requisite of an historical view,
a position which the records on which the view professes to be based
emphatically and unambiguously contradict. Whatever we may think of it,
the evidence undoubtedly is, if evidence there is at all, that Jesus
Christ did say, though He could not get His disciples at the time to
understand and believe Him, that He should rise again on the third day.
What M. Renan had to do, if he thought the contrary, was not to assume,
but to prove, that in these repeated instances in which they report His
announcements, the Evangelists mistook or misquoted the words of their
Master.

He accepts, however, their statement that no one at first hoped that
the words would be made good; and he proceeds to account for the
extraordinary belief which, in spite of this original incredulity, grew
up, and changed the course of things and the face of the world. We
admire and respect many things in M. Renan; but it seems to us that his
treatment of this matter is simply the _ne plus ultra_ of the
degradation of the greatest of issues by the application to it of
sentiment unworthy of a silly novel. In the first place, he lays down
on general grounds that, though the disciples had confessedly given up
all hope, it yet _was natural_ that they should expect to see their
master alive again. "Mais I'enthousiasme et l'amour ne connaissent pas
les situations sans issue." Do they not? Are death and separation such
light things to triumph over that imagination finds it easy to cheat
them? "Ils se jouent de l'impossible et, plutôt que d'abdiquer
l'espérance, ils font violence à toute réalité." Is this an account of
the world of fact or the world of romance? The disciples did not hope;
but, says M. Renan, vague words about the future had dropped from their
master, and these were enough to build upon, and to suggest that they
would soon see him back. In vain it is said that in fact they did not
expect it. "Une telle croyance était d'ailleurs si naturelle, que la
foi des disciples aurait suffi pour la créer de toutes pièces." Was it
indeed--in spite of Enoch and Elias, cases of an entirely different
kind--so natural to think that the ruined leader of a crushed cause,
whose hopeless followers had seen the last of him amid the lowest
miseries of torment and scorn, should burst the grave?

    Il devait arriver [he proceeds] pour Jésus ce qui arrive pour tous
    les hommes qui ont captivé l'attention de leurs semblables. Le
    monde, habitué a leur attribuer des vertus surhumaines, ne peut
    admettre qu'ils aient subi la loi injuste, révoltante, inique, du
    trépas commun.... La mort est chose si absurde quand elle frappe
    l'homme de génie ou l'homme d'un grand coeur, que le peuple ne
    croit pas à la possibilité d'une telle erreur de la nature. Les
    héros ne meurent pas.

The history of the world presents a large range of instances to test
the singular assertion that death is so "absurd" that "the people"
cannot believe that great and good men literally die. But would it be
easy to match the strangeness of a philosopher and a man of genius
gravely writing this down as a reason--not why, at the interval of
centuries, a delusion should grow up--but why, on the very morrow of a
crucifixion and burial, the disciples should have believed that all the
dreadful work they had seen a day or two before was in very fact and
reality reversed? We confess we do not know what human experience is if
it countenances such a supposition as this.

From this antecedent probability he proceeds to the facts. "The Sabbath
day which followed the burial was occupied with these thoughts....
Never was the rest of the Sabbath so fruitful." They all, the women
especially, thought of him all day long in his bed of spices, watched
over by angels; and the assurance grew that the wicked men who had
killed him would not have their triumph, that he would not be left to
decay, that he would be wafted on high to that Kingdom of the Father of
which he had spoken. "Nous le verrons encore; nous entendrons sa voix
charmante; c'est en vain qu'ils l'auront tué." And as, with the Jews, a
future life implied a resurrection of the body, the shape which their
hope took was settled. "Reconnaître que la mort pouvait être
victorieuse de Jésus, de celui qui venait de supprimer son empire,
c'était le comble de l'absurdité." It is, we suppose, irrelevant to
remark that we find not the faintest trace of this sense of absurdity.
The disciples, he says, had no choice between hopelessness and "an
heroic affirmation"; and he makes the bold surmise that "un homme
pénétrant aurait pu annoncer _dès le samedi_ que Jésus revivrait." This
may be history, or philosophy, or criticism; what it is _not_ is the
inference naturally arising from the only records we have of the time
spoken of. But the force of historical imagination dispenses with the
necessity of extrinsic support. "La petite société chrétienne, ce
jour-là, opéra le véritable miracle: elle ressuscita Jésus en son coeur
par l'amour intense qu'elle lui porta. Elle décida que Jésus ne
mourrait pas." The Christian Church has done many remarkable things;
but it never did anything so strange, or which so showed its power, as
when it took that resolution.

How was the decision, involuntary and unconscious, and guiltless of
intentional deception, if we can conceive of such an attitude of mind,
carried out? M. Renan might leave the matter in obscurity. But he sees
his way, in spite of incoherent traditions and the contradictions which
they present, to a "sufficient degree of probability." The belief in
the Resurrection originated in an hallucination of the disordered fancy
of Mary Magdalen, whose mind was thrown off its balance by her
affection and sorrow; and, once suggested, the idea rapidly spread, and
produced, through the Christian society, a series of corresponding
visions, firmly believed to be real. But Mary Magdalen was the founder
of it all:--

    Elle eut, en ce moment solennel, une part d'action tout à fait
    hors ligne. C'est elle qu'il faut suivre pas à pas; car elle
    porta, ce jour-là, pendant une heure, tout le travail de la
    conscience chrétienne; son témoignage décida la foi de
    l'avenir.... La vision légère s'écarte et lui dit: "Ne me touche
    pas!" Peu a peu l'ombre disparait. Mais le miracle de l'amour est
    accompli. Ce que Céphas n'a pu faire, Marie l'a faite; elle a su
    tirer la vie, la parole douce et pénétrante, du tombeau vide. Il
    ne s'agit plus de conséquences à déduire ni de conjectures à
    former. Marie a vu et entendu. La résurrection a son premier
    témoin immédiat.

He proceeds to criticise the accounts which ascribe the first vision to
others; but in reality Mary Magdalen, he says, has done most, after the
great Teacher, for the foundation of Christianity. "Queen and patroness
of idealists," she was able to "impose upon all the sacred vision of
her impassioned soul." All rests upon her first burst of entbusiasm,
which gave the signal and kindled the faith of others. "Sa grande
affirmation de femme, 'il est ressuscité,' a été la base de la foi de
l'humanité":--

    Paul ne parle pas de la vision de Marie et reporte tout l'honneur
    de la première apparition sur Pierre. Mais cette expression est
    très~inexacte. Pierre ne vit que le caveau vide, le suaire et le
    linceul. Marie seule aima assez pour dépasser la nature et faire
    revivre le fantome du maitre exquis. Dans ces sortes de crises
    merveilleuses, voir après les autres n'est rien; tout le mérite
    est de voir pour la première fois; car les autres modèlent ensuite
    leur vision sur le type reçu. C'est le propre des belles
    organisations de concevoir l'image promptement, avec justesse et
    par une sorte de sens intime du dessin. La gloire de la
    résurrection appartient donc à Marie de Magdala. Après Jésus,
    c'est Marie qui a le plus fait pour la fondation du Christianisme.
    L'ombre créée par les sens délicats de Madeleine plane encore sur
    le monde.... Loin d'ici, raison impuissante! Ne va pas appliquer
    une froide analyse à ce chef-d'oeuvre de l'idéalisme et de
    l'amour. Si la sagesse renonce à consoler cette pauvre race
    humaine, trahie par le sort, laisse la folie tenter l'aventure. Où
    est le sage qui a donné au monde autant de joie, que la possédée
    Marie de Magdala?

He proceeds to describe, on the same supposition, the other events of
the day, which he accepts as having in a certain very important sense
happened, though, of course, only in the sense which excludes their
reality. No doubt, for a series of hallucinations, anything will do in
the way of explanation. The scene of the evening was really believed to
have taken place as described, though it was the mere product of chance
noises and breaths of air on minds intently expectant; and we are
bidden to remember "that in these decisive hours a current of wind, a
creaking window, an accidental rustle, settle the belief of nations for
centuries." But at any rate it was a decisive hour:--

    Tels furent les incidents de ce jour qui a fixé le sort de
    l'humanité. L'opinion que Jésus était ressuscité s'y fonda d'une
    manière irrévocable. La secte, qu'on avait cru éteindre en tuant
    le maître, fut dès lors assurée d'un immense avenir.

We are willing to admit that Christian writers have often spoken
unreally and unsatisfactorily enough in their comments on this subject.
But what Christian comment, hard, rigid, and narrow in its view of
possibilities, ever equalled this in its baselessness and supreme
absence of all that makes a view look like the truth? It puts the most
extravagant strain on documents which, truly or falsely, but at any
rate in the most consistent and uniform manner, assert something
different. What they assert in every conceivable form, and with
distinct detail, are facts; it is not criticism, but mere arbitrary
license, to say that all these stand for visions. The issue of truth or
falsehood is intelligible; the middle supposition of confusion and
mistake in that which is the basis of everything, and is definitely and
in such varied ways repeated, is trifling and incredible. We may
disbelieve, if we please, St. Paul's enumeration of the appearances
after the Resurrection; but to resolve it into a series of visions is
to take refuge in the most unlikely of guesses. And, when we take into
view the whole of the case--not merely the life and teaching out of
which everything grew, but the aim and character of the movement which
ensued, and the consequences of it, long tested and still continuing,
to the history and development of mankind--we find it hard to measure
the estimate of probability which is satisfied with the supposition
that the incidents of one day of folly and delusion irrevocably decided
the belief of ages, and the life and destiny of millions. Without the
belief in the Resurrection there would have been no Christianity; if
anything may be laid down as certain, this may. We should probably
never have even heard of the great Teacher; He would not have been
believed in, He would not have been preached to the world; the impulse
to conversion would have been wanting; and all that was without
parallel good and true and fruitful in His life would have perished,
and have been lost in Judaea. And the belief in the Resurrection M.
Renan thinks due to an hour of over-excited fancy in a woman agonized
by sorrow and affection. When we are presented with an hypothesis on
the basis of intrinsic probability, we cannot but remember that the
power of delusion and self-deception, though undoubtedly shown in very
remarkable instances, must yet be in a certain proportion to what it
originates and produces, and that it is controlled by the numerous
antagonistic influences of the world. Crazy women have founded
superstitions; but we cannot help thinking that it would be more
difficult than M. Renan supposes for crazy women to found a world-wide
religion for ages, branching forth into infinite forms, and tested by
its application to all varieties of civilisation, and to national and
personal character. M. Renan points to La Salette. But the assumption
would be a bold one that the La Salette people could have invented a
religion for Christendom which would stand the wear of eighteen
centuries, and satisfy such different minds. Pious frauds, as he says,
may have built cathedrals. But you must take Christianity for what it
has proved itself to be in its hard and unexampled trial. To start an
order, a sect, an institution, even a local tradition or local set of
miracles, on foundations already laid, is one thing; it is not the same
to be the spring of the most serious and the deepest of moral movements
for the improvement of the world, the most unpretending and the most
careless of all outward form and show, the most severely searching and
universal and lasting in its effects on mankind. To trace that back to
the Teacher without the intervention of the belief in the Resurrection
is manifestly impossible. We know what He is said to have taught; we
know what has come of that teaching in the world at large; but if the
link which connects the two be not a real one, it is vain to explain it
by the dreams of affection. It was not a matter of a moment or an hour,
but of days and weeks continually; not the assertion of one imaginative
mourner or two, but of a numerous and variously constituted body of
people. The story, if it was not true, was not delusion, but imposture.
We certainly cannot be said to know much of what happens in the genesis
of religions. But that between such a teacher and such teaching there
should intervene such a gigantic falsehood, whether imposture or
delusion, is unquestionably one of the hardest violations of
probability conceivable, as well as one of the most desperate
conclusions as regards the capacity of mankind for truth. Few thoughts
can be less endurable than that the wisest and best of our race, men of
the soberest and most serious tempers, and most candid and judicial
minds, should have been the victims and dupes of the mad affection of a
crazy Magdalen, of "ces touchantes démoniaques, ces pécheresses
converties, ces vraies fondatrices du Christianisme." M. Renan shrinks
from solving such a question by the hypothesis of conscious fraud. To
solve it by sentiment is hardly more respectful either to the world or
to truth.

We have left ourselves no room to speak of the best part of M. Renan's
new volume, his historical comment on the first period of Christianity.
We do not pretend to go along with him in his general principles of
judgment, or in many of his most important historical conclusions. But
here he is, what he is not in the early chapters, on ground where his
critical faculty comes fairly into play. He is, we think, continually
paradoxical and reckless in his statements; and his book is more
thickly strewn than almost any we know with half-truths, broad axioms
which require much paring down to be of any use, but which are made by
him to do duty for want of something stronger. But, from so keen and so
deeply interested a writer, it is our own fault if we do not learn a
good deal. And we may study in its full development that curious
combination, of which M. Renan is the most conspicuous example, of
profound veneration for Christianity and sympathy with its most
characteristic aspects, with the scientific impulse to destroy in the
public mind the belief in its truth.



XIII

M. RENAN'S HIBBERT LECTURES[15]


  [15]
  _Guardian_, 14th April 1880.

I

The object of M. Renan's lectures at St. George's Hall is, as we
understand him, not merely to present a historical sketch of the
influence of Rome on the early Church, but to reconcile the historical
imagination with the results of his own and kindred speculations on the
origin of Christianity. He has, with a good faith which we do not
question, investigated the subject and formed his conclusions upon it.
He on the present occasion assumes these investigations, and that he,
at any rate, is satisfied with their result. He hardly pretends to
carry the mixed popular audience whom he addresses into any real
inquiry into the grounds on which he has satisfied himself that the
received account of Christianity is not the true one. But he is aware
that all minds are more or less consciously impressed with the broad
difficulty that, after all attempts to trace the origin of Christianity
to agencies and influences of well-understood human character, the
disproportion between causes and effects still continues to appear
excessive. The great Christian tradition with its definite beliefs
about the conditions of man's existence, which has shaped the fortunes
and determined the future of mankind on earth, is in possession of the
world as much as the great tradition of right and wrong, or of the
family, or of the State. How did it get there? It is most astonishing
that it should have done so, what is the account of it? Of course
people may inquire into this question as they may inquire into the
basis of morality, or the origin of the family or the State. But here,
as on those subjects, reason, and that imagination which is one of the
forces of reason, by making the mind duly sensible of the magnitude of
ideas and alternatives, are exacting. M. Renan's task is to make the
purely human origin of Christianity, its origin in the circumstances,
the beliefs, the ideas, and the moral and political conditions of the
first centuries, seem to us _natural_--as natural in the history of the
world as other great and surprising events and changes--as natural as
the growth and the fall of the Roman Empire, or as the Reformation, or
the French Revolution. He is well qualified to sound the depths of his
undertaking and to meet its heavy exigencies. With a fuller knowledge
of books, and a closer familiarity than most men with the thoughts and
the events of the early ages, with a serious value for the idea of
religion as such, and certainly with no feeble powers of recalling the
past and investing it with colour and life, he has to show how these
things can be--how a religion with such attributes as he freely
ascribes to the Gospel, so grand, so pure, so lasting, can have sprung
up not merely _in_ but _from_ a most corrupt and immoral time, and can
have its root in the most portentous and impossible of falsehoods. It
must be said to be a bold undertaking.

M. Renan has always aimed at doing justice to what he assailed;
Christians, who realise what they believe, will say that he patronises
their religion, and naturally they resent such patronage. Such candour
adds doubtless to the literary effect of his method; but it is only due
to him to acknowledge the fairness of his admissions. He starts with
the declaration that there never was a nobler moment in human history
than the beginnings of the Christian Church. It was the "most heroic
episode in the annals of mankind." "Never did man draw forth from his
bosom more devotion, more love of the ideal, than in the 150 years
which elapsed between the sweet Galilean vision and the death of Marcus
Aurelius." It was not only that the saints were admirable and beautiful
in their lives; they had the secret of the future, and laid down the
lines on which the goodness and hope of the coming world were to move."
Never was the religious conscience more eminently creative, never did
it lay down with more authority the law of future ages."

Now, if this is not mere rhetoric, what does it come to? It means not
merely that there was here a phenomenon, not only extraordinary but
unique, in the development of human character, but that here was
created or evolved what was to guide and form the religious ideas of
mankind; here were the springs of what has reached through all the ages
of expanding humanity to our own days, of what is best and truest and
deepest and holiest. M. Renan, at any rate, does not think this an
illusion of Christian prepossessions, a fancy picture of a mythic age
of gold, of an unhistorical period of pure and primitive antiquity. Put
this view of things by the side of any of the records or the literature
of the time remaining to us; if not St. Paul's Epistles nor Tacitus nor
Lucian, then Virgil and Horace and Cicero, or Seneca or Epictetus or
Marcus Aurelius. Is it possible by any effort of imagination to body
forth the links which can solidly connect the ideas which live and work
and grow on one side, with the ideas which are represented by the facts
and principles of the other side? Or is it any more possible to connect
what we know of Christian ideas and convictions by a bond of natural
and intelligible, if not necessary derivation, with what we know of
Jewish ideas and Jewish habits of thought at the time in question? Yet
that is the thing to be done, to be done rigorously, to be done clearly
and distinctly, by those who are satisfied to find the impulses and
faith which gave birth to Christianity amid the seething confusions of
the time which saw its beginning; absolutely identical with those wild
movements in origin and nature, and only by a strange, fortunate
accident immeasurably superior to them.

This question M. Renan has not answered; as far as we can see he has
not perceived that it is the first question for him to answer, in
giving a philosophical account of the history of Christianity. Instead,
he tells us, and he is going still further to tell us, how Rome and its
wonderful influences acted on Christianity, and helped to assure its
victories. But, first of all, what is that Christianity, and whence did
it come, which Rome so helped? It came, he says, from Judaism; "it was
Judaism under its Christian form which Rome propagated without wishing
it, yet with such mighty energy that from a certain epoch Romanism and
Christianity became synonymous words"; it was Jewish monotheism, the
religion the Roman hated and despised, swallowing up by its contrast
all that was local, legendary, and past belief, and presenting one
religious law to the countless nationalities of the Empire, which like
itself was one, and like itself above all nationalities.

This may all be true, and is partially true; but how did that hated and
partial Judaism break through its trammels, and become a religion for
all men, and a religion to which all men gathered? The Roman
organisation was an admirable vehicle for Christianity; but the vehicle
does not make that which it carries, or account for it. M. Renan's
picture of the Empire abounds with all those picturesque details which
he knows so well where to find, and knows so well, too, how to place in
an interesting light. There were then, of course, conditions of the
time more favourable to the Christian Church than would have been the
conditions of other times. There was a certain increased liberty of
thought, though there were also some pretty strong obstacles to it. M.
Renan has Imperial proclivities, and reminds us truly enough that
despotisms are sometimes more tolerant than democracies, and that
political liberty is not the same as spiritual and mental freedom, and
does not always favour it. It may be partially true, as he says, that
"Virgil and Tibullus show that Roman harshness and cruelty were
softening down"; that "equality and the rights of men were preached by
the Stoics"; that "woman was more her own mistress, and slaves were
better treated than in the days of Cato"; that "very humane and just
laws were enacted under the very worst emperors; that Tiberius and Nero
were able financiers"; that "after the terrible butcheries of the old
centuries, mankind was crying with the voice of Virgil for peace and
pity." A good many qualifications and abatements start up in our minds
on reading these statements, and a good many formidable doubts suggest
themselves, if we can at all believe what has come down to us of the
history of these times. It is hard to accept quite literally the bold
assertion that "love for the poor, sympathy with all men, almsgiving,
were becoming virtues." But allow this as the fair and hopeful side of
the Empire. Yet all this is a long way from accounting for the effects
on the world of Christianity, even in the dim, vaporous form in which
M. Renan imagines it, much more in the actual concrete reality in
which, if we know anything, it appeared. "Christianity," he says,
"responded to the cry for peace and pity of all weary and tender
souls." No doubt it did; but what was it that responded, and what was
its consolation, and whence was its power drawn? What was there in the
known thoughts or hopes or motives of men at the time to furnish such a
response? "Christianity," he says, "could only have been born and
spread at a time when men had no longer a country"; "it was that
explosion of social and religious ideas which became inevitable after
Augustus had put an end to political struggles," after his policy had
killed "patriotism." It is true enough that the first Christians,
believing themselves subjects of an Eternal King and in view of an
eternal world, felt themselves strangers and pilgrims in this; yet did
the rest of the Roman world under the Caesars feel that they had no
country, and was the idea of patriotism extinct in the age of Agricola?
But surely the real question worth asking is, What was it amid the
increasing civilisation and prosperous peace of Rome under the first
Emperors which made these Christians relinquish the idea of a country?
From whence did Christianity draw its power to set its followers in
inflexible opposition to the intensest worship of the State that the
world has ever known?

To tell us the conditions under which all this occurred is not to tell
us the cause of it. We follow with interest the sketches which M. Renan
gives of these conditions, though it must be said that his
generalisations are often extravagantly loose and misleading. We do
indeed want to know more of those wonderful but hidden days which
intervene between the great Advent, with its subsequent Apostolic age,
and the days when the Church appears fully constituted and recognised.
German research and French intelligence and constructiveness have done
something to help us, but not much. But at the end of all such
inquiries appears the question of questions, What was the beginning and
root of it all? Christians have a reasonable answer to the question.
There is none, there is not really the suggestion of one, in M. Renan's
account of the connection of Christianity with the Roman world.


II[16]

  [16]
  _Guardian_, 21st April 1880.

M. Renan has pursued the line of thought indicated in his first
lecture, and in his succeeding lectures has developed the idea that
Christianity, as we know it, was born in Imperial Rome, and that in its
visible form and active influence on the world it was the manifest
product of Roman instincts and habits; it was the spirit of the Empire
passing into a new body and accepting in exchange for political power,
as it slowly decayed and vanished, a spiritual supremacy as unrivalled
and as astonishing. The "Legend of the Roman Church--Peter and Paul,"
"Rome the Centre in which Church Authority grew up," and "Rome the
Capital of Catholicism," are the titles of the three lectures in which
this thesis is explained and illustrated. A lecture on Marcus Aurelius,
at the Royal Institution, though not one of the series, is obviously
connected with it, and concludes M. Renan's work in England.

Except the brilliant bits of writing which, judging from the full
abstracts given in translation in the _Times_, appear to have been
interspersed, and except the undoubting self-confidence and _aplomb_
with which a historical survey, reversing the common ideas of mankind,
was delivered, there was little new to be learned from M. Renan's
treatment of his subject. Perhaps it may be described as the Roman
Catholic theory of the rise of the Church, put in an infidel point of
view. It is Roman Catholic in concentrating all interest, all the
sources of influence and power in the Christian religion and Christian
Church, from the first moment at Rome. But for Rome the Christian
Church would not have existed. The Church is inconceivable without
Rome, and Rome as the seat and centre of its spiritual activity.
Everything else is forgotten. There were Christian Churches all over
the Empire, in Syria, in Egypt, in Africa, in Asia Minor, in Gaul, in
Greece. A great body of Christian literature, embodying the ideas and
character of Christians all over the Empire, was growing up, and this
was not Roman and had nothing to do with Rome; it was Greek as much as
Latin, and local, not metropolitan, in its characteristics.
Christianity was spreading here, there, and everywhere, slowly and
imperceptibly as the tide comes in, or as cells multiply in the growing
tissues of organised matter; it was spreading under its many distinct
guides and teachers, and taking possession of the cities and provinces
of the Empire. All this great movement, the real foundation of all that
was to be, is overlooked and forgotten in the attention which is fixed
on Rome and confined to it. As in the Roman Catholic view, M. Renan
brings St. Paul and St. Peter together to Rome, to found that great
Imperial Church in which the manifold and varied history of Christendom
is merged and swallowed up. Only, of course, M. Renan brings them there
as "fanatics" instead of Apostles and martyrs. We know something about
St. Peter and St. Paul. We know them at any rate from their writings.
In M. Renan's representation they stand opposed to one another as
leaders of factions, to whose fierce hatreds and jealousies there is
nothing comparable. "All the differences," he is reported to say,
"which divide orthodox folks, heretics, schismatics, in our own day,
are as nothing compared with the dissension between Peter and Paul." It
is, as every one knows, no new story; but there it is in M. Renan in
all its crudity, as if it were the most manifest and accredited of
truths. M. Renan first brings St. Paul to Rome. "It was," he says, "a
great event in the world's history, almost as pregnant with
consequences as his conversion." How it was so M. Renan does not
explain; but he brings St. Peter to Rome also, "following at the heels
of St. Paul," to counteract and neutralise his influence. And who is
this St. Peter? He represents the Jewish element; and what that element
was at Rome M. Renan takes great pains to put before us. He draws an
elaborate picture of the Jews and Jewish quarter of Rome--a "longshore
population" of beggars and pedlars, with a Ghetto resembling the
Alsatia of _The Fortunes of Nigel_, seething with dirt and fanaticism.
These were St. Peter's congeners at Rome, whose ideas and claims,
"timid trimmer" though he was, he came to Rome to support against the
Hellenism and Protestantism of St. Paul. And at Rome they, both of
them, probably, perished in Nero's persecution, and that is the history
of the success of Christianity. "Only fanatics can found anything.
Judaism lives on because of the intense frenzy of its prophets and
annalists, Christianity by means of its martyrs."

But a certain Clement arose after their deaths, to arrange a
reconciliation between the fiercely antagonistic factions of St. Peter
and St. Paul. How he harmonised them M. Renan leaves us to imagine; but
he did reconcile them; he gathered in his own person the authority of
the Roman Church; he lectured the Corinthian Church on its turbulence
and insubordination; he anticipated, M. Renan remarked, almost in
words, the famous saying of the French Archbishop of Rouen, "My clergy
are my regiment, and they are drilled to obey like a regiment." On this
showing, Clement might almost be described as the real founder of
Christianity, of which neither St. Peter nor St. Paul, with their
violent oppositions, can claim to be the complete representative; at
any rate he was the first Pope, complete in all his attributes. And in
accordance with this beginning M. Renan sees in the Roman Church,
first, the centre in which Church authority grew up, and next, the
capital of Catholicism. In Rome the congregation gave up its rights to
its elders, and these rights the elders surrendered to the single ruler
or Bishop. The creation of the Episcopate was eminently the work of
Rome; and this Bishop of Rome caught the full spirit of the Caesar, on
whose decay he became great; and troubling himself little about the
deep questions which exercised the minds and wrung the hearts of
thinkers and mystics, he made himself the foundation of order,
authority, and subordination to all parts of the Imperial world.

Such is M. Renan's explanation of the great march and triumph of the
Christian Church. The Roman Empire, which we had supposed was the
natural enemy of the Church, was really the founder of all that made
the Church strong, and bequeathed to the Church its prerogatives and
its spirit, and partly its machinery. We should hardly gather from this
picture that there was, besides, a widespread Catholic Church, with its
numerous centres of life and thought and teaching, and with very slight
connection, in the early times, with the Church of the capital. And, in
the next place, we should gather from it that there was little more in
the Church than a powerful and strongly built system of centralised
organisation and control; we should hardly suspect the existence of the
real questions which interested or disturbed it; we should hardly
suspect the existence of a living and all-engrossing theology, or the
growth and energy in it of moral forces, or that the minds of
Christians about the world were much more busy with the discipline of
life, the teaching and meaning of the inspired words of Scripture, and
the ever-recurring conflict with perverseness and error, than with
their dependent connection on the Imperial Primacy of Rome, and the
lessons they were to learn from it.

Disguised as it may be, M. Renan's lectures represent not history, but
scepticism as to all possibility of history. Pictures of a Jewish
Ghetto, with its ragged mendicants smelling of garlic, in places where
Christians have been wont to think of the Saints; ingenious
explanations as to the way in which the "club" of the Christian Church
surrendered its rights to a _bureau_ of its officers; exhortations to
liberty and tolerance; side-glances at the contrasts of national gifts
and destinies and futures in the first century and in the nineteenth;
felicitous parallels and cunning epigrams, subtle combinations of the
pathetic, the egotistical, and the cynical, all presented with calm
self-reliance and in the most finished and distinguished of styles, may
veil for the moment from the audience which such things amuse, and even
interest, the hollowness which lies beneath. But the only meaning of
the lectures is to point out more forcibly than ever that besides the
obvious riddles of man's life there is one stranger and more appalling
still--that a religion which M. Renan can never speak of without
admiration and enthusiasm is based on a self-contradiction and deluding
falsehood, more dreadful in its moral inconsistencies than the grave.

We cannot help feeling that M. Renan himself is a true representative
of that highly cultivated society of the Empire which would have
crushed Christianity, and which Christianity, vanquished. He still owes
something, and owns it, to what he has abandoned--"I am often tempted
to say, as Job said, in our Latin version, _Etiam si occident me, in
ipso sperabo_. But the next moment all is gone--all is but a symbol and
a dream." There is no possibility of solving the religious problem. He
relapses into profound disbelief of the worth and success of moral
efforts after truth. His last word is an exhortation to tolerance for
"fanatics," as the best mode of extinguishing them. "If, instead of
leading _Polyeucte_ to punishment, the magistrate, with a smile and
shake of the hand, had sent him home again, _Polyeucte_ would not have
been caught offending again; perhaps, in his old age, he would even
have laughed at his escapade, and would have become a sensible man." It
is as obvious and natural in our days to dispose of such difficulties
in this way with a smile and a sneer as it was in the first century
with a shout--_"Christiani ad leones."_ But Corneille was as good a
judge of the human heart as M. Renan. He had gauged the powers of faith
and conviction; he certainly would have expected to find his
_Polyeucte_ more obstinate.



XIV

RENAN'S "SOUVENIRS D'ENFANCE"[17]


  [17]
  _Souvenirs d'Enfance et de Jeunesse_. Par Ernest Renan. _Guardian_,
  18th July 1883.

The sketches which M. Renan gives us of his early life are what we
should have looked for from the writer of the _Vie de Jésus_. The story
of the disintegration of a faith is supposed commonly to have something
tragic about it. We expect it to be a story of heart-breaking
disenchantments, of painful struggles, of fierce recoils against
ancient beliefs and the teachers who bolstered them up; of indignation
at having been so long deceived; of lamentation over years wasted in
the service of falsehood. The confessions of St. Augustine, the
biography of Blanco White, the letters of Lamennais, at least agree in
the witness which they bear to the bitter pangs and anxieties amid
which, in their case, the eventful change came about. Even Cardinal
Newman's _Apologia_, self-restrained and severely controlled as it is,
shows no doubtful traces of the conflicts and sorrows out of which he
believed himself to have emerged to a calmer and surer light. But M.
Renan's story is an idyl, not a tragedy. It is sunny, placid,
contented. He calls his life the "_charmante promenade_" which the
"cause of all good," whatever that may be, has granted him through the
realities of existence. There are in it no storms of passion, no
cruelties of circumstances, no deplorable mistakes, no complaints, no
recriminations. His life flows on smoothly, peacefully, happily, with
little of rapids and broken waters, gradually and in the most natural
and inevitable way enlarging itself, moving in new and wider channels
and with increased volume and force, but never detaching itself and
breaking off from its beginnings. It is a spectacle which M. Renan, who
has lived this life, takes a gentle pleasure in contemplating. He looks
back on it with thankfulness, and also with amusement It makes a
charming and complete picture. No part could be wanting without
injuring the effect of the whole. It is the very ideal of the education
of the Rousseau school--a child of nature, developing, amid the
simplest and humblest circumstances of life, the finest gifts and most
delicate graces of faith and reverence and purity--brought up by sages
whose wisdom he could not in time help outrunning, but whose piety,
sweetness, disinterestedness, and devoted labour left on his mind
impressions which nothing could wear out; and at length, when the time
came, passing naturally, and without passion or bitterness, from out of
their faithful but too narrow discipline into a wider and ampler air,
and becoming, as was fit, master and guide to himself, with light which
they could not bear, and views of truth greater and deeper than they
could conceive. But every stage of the progress, through the virtues of
the teachers, and the felicitous disposition of the pupil, exhibits
both in exactly the due relations in which each ought to be with the
other, with none of the friction of rebellious and refractory temper on
one side, or of unintelligent harshness on the other. He has nothing to
regret in the schools through which he passed, in the preparations
which he made there for the future, in the way in which they shaped his
life. He lays down the maxim, "On ne doit jamais écrire que de ce qu'on
aime." There is a serene satisfaction diffused through the book, which
scarcely anything intervenes to break or disturb; he sees so much
poetry in his life, so much content, so much signal and unlooked-for
success, that he has little to tell except what is delightful and
admirable. And then he is so certain that he is right: he can look down
with so much good-humoured superiority on past and present, alike on
what he calls "l'effroyable aventure du moyen âge," and on the march of
modern society to the dead level of "Americanism." It need not be said
that the story is told with all M. Renan's consummate charm of
storytelling. All that it wants is depth of real feeling and
seriousness--some sense of the greatness of what he has had to give up,
not merely of its poetic beauty and tender associations. It hardly
seems to occur to him that something more than his easy cheerfulness
and his vivid historical imagination is wanted to solve for him the
problems of the world, and that his gradual transition from the
Catholicism of the seminary to the absolute rejection of the
supernatural in religion does not, as he describes it, throw much light
on the question of the hopes and destiny of mankind.

The outline of his story is soon told. It is in general like that of
many more who in France have broken away from religion. A clever
studious boy, a true son of old Brittany--the most melancholy, the most
tender, the most ardent, the most devout, not only of all French
provinces, but of all regions in Europe--is passed on from the teaching
of good, simple, hard-working country priests to the central
seminaries, where the leaders of the French clergy are educated. He
comes up a raw, eager, ignorant provincial, full of zeal for knowledge,
full of reverence and faith, and first goes through the distinguished
literary school of St. Nicolas du Chardonnet, of which Dupanloup was
the founder and the inspiring soul. Thence he passed under the more
strictly professional discipline of St. Sulpice: first at the
preparatory philosophical school at Issy, then to study scientific
theology in the house of St. Sulpice itself at Paris. At St. Sulpice he
showed special aptitudes for the study of Hebrew, in which he was
assisted and encouraged by M. le Hir, "the most remarkable person," in
his opinion, "whom the French clergy has produced in our days," a
"savant and a saint," who had mastered the results of German criticism
as they were found in the works of Gesenius and Ewald. On his faith all
this knowledge had not made the faintest impression; but it was this
knowledge which broke down M. Renan's, and finally led to his retiring
from St. Sulpice. On the one side was the Bible and Catholic theology,
carefully, scientifically, and consistently taught at St. Sulpice; on
the other were the exegesis and the historical criticism of the German
school. He came at length to the conclusion that the two are
incompatible; that there was but a choice of alternatives; and purely
on the ground of historical criticism, he says, not on any abstract
objections to the supernatural, or to miracles, or to Catholic dogma,
he gave up revealed religion. He gave it up not without regrets at the
distress caused to friends, and at parting with much that was endeared
to him by old associations, and by intrinsic beauty and value; but, as
far as can be judged, without any serious sense of loss. He spent some
time in obscurity, teaching, and studying laboriously, and at length
beginning to write. Michel Lévy, the publisher, found him out, and
opened to him a literary career, and in due time he became famous. He
has had the ambiguous honour of making the Bible an object of such
interest to French readers as it never was before, at the cost of
teaching them to find in it a reflection of their own characteristic
ways of looking at life and the world. It is not an easy thing to do
with such a book as the Bible; but he has done it.

As a mere history of a change of convictions, the _Souvenirs_ are
interesting, but hardly of much importance. They are written with a
kind of Epicurean serenity and dignity, avoiding all exaggeration and
violence, profuse in every page in the delicacies and also in the
reticences of respect, not too serious to exclude the perpetual
suggestion of a well-behaved amused irony, not too much alive to the
ridiculous and the self-contradictory to forget the attitude of
composure due to the theme of the book. He warns his readers at the
outset that they must not look for a stupid literalness in his account.
"Ce qu'on dit de soi est toujours poésie"--the reflection of states of
mind and varying humours, not the exact details of fact. "Tout est vrai
dans ce petit volume, mais non de ce genre de verité qui est requis
pour une _Biographie universelle_. Bien des choses ont été mises, afin
qu'on sourie; si l'usage l'eût permis, j'aurais dû écrire plus d'une
fois à la marge--_cum grano salis_". It is candid to warn us thus to
read a little between the lines; but it is a curious and unconscious
disclosure of his characteristic love of a mixture of the misty and the
clear. The really pleasant part of it is his account, which takes up
half the volume, of Breton ways and feelings half a century ago, an
account which exactly tallies with the pictures of them in Souvestre's
writings; and the kindliness and justice with which he speaks of his
old Catholic and priestly teachers, not only in his boyish days at
Tréguier, but in his seminary life in Paris. His account of this
seminary life is unique in its picturesque vividness. He describes how,
at St. Nicolas, under the fiery and irresistible Dupanloup, whom he
speaks of with the reserved courtesy due to a distinguished person whom
he much dislikes, his eager eyes were opened to the realities of
literature, and to the subtle powers of form and style in writing,
which have stood him in such stead, and have been the real secret of
his own success.

    Le monde s'ouvrit pour moi. Malgré sa prétention d'être un asile
    fermé aux bruits du dehors, Saint-Nicolas était a cette époque la
    maison la plus brillante et la plus mondaine. Paris y entrait à
    pleins bords par les portes et les fenêtres, Paris tout entier,
    moins la corruption, je me hâte de le dire, Paris avec ses
    petitesses et ses grandeurs, ses hardiesses et ses chiffons, sa
    force révolutionnaire et ses mollesses flasques. Mes vieux prêtres
    de Bretagne savaient bien mieux les mathématiques et le latin que
    mes nouveaux maîtres; mais ils vivaient dans des catacombes sans
    lumière et sans air. Ici, l'atmosphère du siècle circulait
    librement.... Au bout de quelque temps une chose tout à fait
    inconnue m'etait révélée. Les mots, talent, éclat, réputation
    eurent un sens pour moi. J'étais perdu pour l'idéal modeste que
    mes anciens maîtres m'avaient inculqué.

And he describes how Dupanloup brought his pupils perpetually into
direct relations with himself and communicated to them something of his
own enthusiasm. He gained the power over their hearts which a great
general gains over his soldiers. His approval, his interest in a man,
were the all-absorbing object, the all-sufficient reward; the one
punishment feared was dismissal, always inflicted with courtesy and
tact, from the honour and the joy of serving under him:--

    Adoré de ses élèves, M. Dupanloup n'était pas toujours agréable à
    ces collaborateurs. On m'a dit que, plus tard, dans son diocèse,
    les choses se passèrent de la même manière, qu'il fut toujours
    plus aimé de ses laïques que de ses prêtres. Il est certain qu'il
    écrasait tout autour de lui. Mais sa violence même nous attachait;
    car nous sentions que nous étions son but unique. Ce qu'il était,
    c'était un éveilleur incomparable; pour tirer de chacun de ses
    élèves la somme de ce qu'il pouvait donner, personne ne l'égalait.
    Chacun de ses deux cents élèves existait distinct dans sa pensée;
    il était pour chacun d'eux l'excitateur toujours présent, le motif
    de vivre et de travailler. Il croyait au talent et en faisait la
    base de la foi. Il répétait souvent que l'homme vaut en proportion
    de sa faculté d'admirer. Son admiration n'était pas toujours assez
    éclairée par la science; mais elle venait d'une grande chaleur
    d'âme et d'un coeur vraiment possédé de l'amour du beau.... Les
    défauts de l'éducation qu'il donnait étaient les défauts même de
    son esprit. Il était trop peu rationnel, trop peu scientifique. On
    eût dit que ses deux cents élèves étaient destinés à être tous
    poètes, écrivains, orateurs.

St. Nicolas was literary. Issy and St. Sulpice were severely
philosophic and scientific, places of "_fortes études_"; and the writer
thinks that they were more to his own taste than the more brilliant
literary education given under Dupanloup. In one sense it may be so.
They introduced him to exactness of thought and precision of
expression, and they widened his horizon of possible and attainable
knowledge. He passed, he says, from words to things. But he is a writer
who owes so much to the form into which he throws his thoughts, to the
grace and brightness and richness of his style, that he probably is a
greater debtor to the master whom he admires and dislikes, Dupanloup,
than to the modest, reserved, and rather dull Sulpician teachers, whom
he loves and reveres and smiles at, whose knowledge of theology was
serious, profound, and accurate, and whose characteristic temper was
one of moderation and temperate reason, joined to a hatred of display,
and a suspicion of all that seemed too clever and too brilliant. But
his witness to their excellence, to their absolute self-devotion to
their work, to their dislike of extravagance and exaggeration, to their
good sense and cultivation, is ungrudging and warm. Of course he thinks
them utterly out of date; but on their own ground he recognises that
they were men of strength and solidity, the best and most thorough of
teachers; the most sincere, the most humble, the most self-forgetting
of priests:--

    Beaucoup de mes jugements étonnent les gens du monde parcequ'ils
    n'out pas vu ce que j'ai vu. J'ai vu à Saint-Sulpice, associés à
    des idées étroites, je l'avoue, les miracles que nos races peuvent
    produire en fait de bonté, de modestie, d'abnégation personelle.
    Ce qu'il y a de vertu à Saint-Sulpice suffirait pour gouverner un
    monde, et cela m'a rendu difficile pour ce que j'ai trouvé
    ailleurs.

M. Renan, as we have said, is very just to his education, and to the
men who gave it. He never speaks of them except with respect and
gratitude. It is seldom, indeed, that he permits himself anything like
open disparagement of the men and the cause which he forsook. The
shafts of his irony are reserved for men on his own side, for the
radical violences of M. Clémenceau, and for the exaggerated reputation
of Auguste Comte, "who has been set up as a man of the highest order of
genius, for having said, in bad French, what all scientific thinkers
for two hundred years have seen as clearly as himself." He attributes
to his ecclesiastical training those excellences in his own temper and
principles on which he dwells with much satisfaction and thankfulness.
They are, he considers, the result of his Christian and "Sulpician"
education, though the root on which they grew is for ever withered and
dead. "La foi disparue, la morale reste.... C'est par le caractère que
je suis resté essentiellement l'élève de mes anciens maîtres." He is
proud of these virtues, and at the same time amused at the odd
contradictions in which they have sometimes involved him:--

    Il me plairait d'expliquer par le détail et de montrer comment la
    gageure paradoxale de garder les vertus cléricales, sans la foi
    qui leur sert de base et dans un monde pour lequel elles ne sont
    pas faites, produisit, en ce que me concerne, les rencontres les
    plus divertissantes. J'aimerais à raconter toutes les aventures
    que mes vertus sulpiciennes m'amenèrent, et les tours singuliers
    qu'elles m'ont joués. Après soixante ans de vie sérieuse on a le
    droit de sourire; et où trouver une source de rire plus abondante,
    plus à portée, plus inoffensive qu'en soimême? Si jamais un auteur
    comique voulait amuser le public de mes ridicules, je ne lui
    demanderais qu'une chose; c'est de me prendre pour collaborateur;
    je lui conterais des choses vingt fois plus amusantes que celles
    qu'il pourrait inventer.

He dwells especially on four of these virtues which were, he thinks,
graven ineffaceably on his nature at St. Sulpice. They taught him there
not to care for money or success. They taught him the old-fashioned
French politeness--that beautiful instinct of giving place to others,
which is perishing in the democratic scramble for the best places, in
the omnibus and the railway as in business and society. It is more
curious to find that he thinks that they taught him to be modest.
Except on the faith of his assertions, the readers of his book would
not naturally have supposed that he believed himself specially endowed
with this quality; it is at any rate the modesty which, if it shrinks
into retirement from the pretensions of the crowd, goes along with a
high and pitying sense of superiority, and a self-complacency of which
the good humour never fails. His masters also taught him to value
purity. For this he almost makes a sort of deprecating apology. He saw,
indeed, "the vanity of this virtue as of all the others"; he admits
that it is an unnatural virtue. But he says, "L'homme ne doit jamais se
permettre deux hardiesses à la fois. Le libre penseur doit être réglé
en ses moeurs." In this doctrine it may be doubted whether he will find
many followers. An unnatural virtue, where nature only is recognised as
a guide, is more likely to be discredited by his theory than
recommended by his example, particularly if the state of opinion in
France is such as is described in the following passage--a passage
which in England few men, whatever they might think, would have the
boldness to state as an acknowledged social phenomenon:--

    Le monde, dont les jugements sont rarement tout à fait faux, voit
    une sorte de ridicule à être vertueux quand on n'y est pas obligé
    par un devoir professionnel. Le prêtre, ayant pour état d'être
    chaste, comme le soldat d'être brave, est, d'après ces idées,
    presque le seul qui puisse sans ridicule tenir à des principes sur
    lesquels la morale et la mode se livrent les plus étranges
    combats. Il est hors de doute qu'en ce point, comme en beaucoup
    d'autres, mes principes clericaux, conservés dans le siècle, m'ont
    nui aux yeux du monde.

We have one concluding observation to make. This is a book of which the
main interest, after all, depends on the way in which it touches on the
question of questions, the truth and reality of the Christian religion.
But from first to last it docs not show the faintest evidence that the
writer ever really knew, or even cared, what religion is. Religion is
not only a matter of texts, of scientific criticisms, of historical
investigations, of a consistent theology. It is not merely a procession
of external facts and events, a spectacle to be looked at from the
outside. It is, if it is anything, the most considerable and most
universal interest in the complex aggregate of human interests. It
grows out of the deepest moral roots, out of the most characteristic
and most indestructible spiritual elements, out of wants and needs and
aspirations and hopes, without which man, as we know him, would not be
man. When a man, in asking whether Christianity is true, leaves out all
this side of the matter, when he shows that it has not come before him
as a serious and importunate reality, when he shows that he is
unaffected by those deep movements and misgivings and anxieties of the
soul to which religion corresponds, and treats the whole matter as a
question only of erudition and criticism, we may acknowledge him to be
an original and acute critic, a brilliant master of historical
representation; but he has never yet come face to face with the
problems of religion. His love of truth may be unimpeachable, but he
docs not know what he is talking about. M. Renan speaks of giving up
his religion as a man might speak of accepting a new and unpopular
physical hypothesis like evolution, or of making up his mind to give up
the personality of Homer or the early history of Rome. Such an interior
attitude of mind towards religion as is implied, for instance, in
Bishop Butler's _Sermons on the Love of God_, or the _De Imitatione_ or
Newman's _Parochial Sermons_ seems to him, as far as we can judge, an
unknown and unattempted experience. It is easy to deal with a question
if you leave out half the factors of it, and those the most difficult
and the most serious. It is easy to be clear if you do not choose to
take notice of the mysterious, and if you exclude from your
consideration as vague and confused all that vast department of human
concerns where we at best can only "see through a glass darkly." It is
easy to find the world a pleasant and comfortable and not at all
perplexing place, if your life has been, as M. Renan describes his own,
a "charming promenade" through it; if, as he says, you are blessed with
"a good humour not easily disturbed "; and you "have not suffered
much"; and "nature has prepared cushions to soften shocks"; and you
have "had so much enjoyment in this life that you really have no right
to claim any compensation beyond it." That is M. Renan's experience of
life--a life of which he looks forward to the perfection in the
clearness and security of its possible denials of ancient beliefs, and
in the immense development of its positive and experimental knowledge.
How would Descartes have rejoiced, he says, if he could have seen some
poor treatise on physics or cosmography of our day, and what would we
not give to catch a glimpse of such an elementary schoolbook of a
hundred years hence.

But that is not at any rate the experience of all the world, nor does
it appear likely ever to be within the reach of all the world. There is
another aspect of life more familiar than this, an aspect which has
presented itself to the vast majority of mankind, the awful view of it
which is made tragic by pain and sorrow and moral evil; which, in the
way in which religion looks at it, if it is sterner, is also higher and
nobler, and is brightened by hope and purposes of love; a view which
puts more upon men and requires more from them, but holds before them a
destiny better than the perfection here of physical science. To minds
which realise all this, it is more inconceivable than any amount of
miracle that such a religion as Christianity should have emerged
naturally out of the conditions of the first century. They refuse to
settle such a question by the short and easy method on which M. Renan
relies; they will not consent to put it on questions about the two
Isaiahs, or about alleged discrepancies between the Evangelists; they
will not think the claims of religion disposed of by M. Renan's canon,
over and over again contradicted, that whether there can be or not,
there _is_ no evidence of the supernatural in the world. To those who
measure and feel the true gravity of the issues, it is almost
unintelligible to find a man who has been face to face with
Christianity all his life treating the deliberate condemnation of it
almost gaily and with a light heart, and showing no regrets in having
to give it up as a delusion and a dream. It is a poor and meagre end of
a life of thought and study to come to the conclusion that the age in
which he has lived is, if not one of the greatest, at least "the most
amusing of all ages."



XV

LIFE OF FREDERICK ROBERTSON[18]


  [18]
  _Life and Letters of Frederick W. Robertson_. Edited by Stopford A.
  Brooke. _Guardian_, 15th November 1865.

If the proof of a successful exhibition of a strongly marked and
original character be that it excites and sustains interest throughout,
that our tastes are appealed to and our judgments called forth with
great strength, that we pass continuously and rapidly, as we read, from
deep and genuine admiration to equally deep and genuine dissent and
disapprobation, that it allows us to combine a general but irresistible
sense of excellence growing upon us through the book with an
under-current of real and honest dislike and blame, then this book in a
great measure satisfies the condition of success. It is undeniable that
in what it shows us of Mr. Robertson there is much to admire, much to
sympathise with, much to touch us, a good deal to instruct us. He is
set before us, indeed, by the editor, as the ideal of all that a great
Christian teacher and spiritual guide, all that a brave and wise and
high-souled man, may be conceived to be. We cannot quite accept him as
an example of such rare and signal achievement; and the fault of the
book is the common one of warm-hearted biographers to wind their own
feelings and those of their readers too high about their subject; to
talk as if their hero's excellences were unknown till he appeared to
display them, and to make up for the imperfect impression resulting
from actual facts and qualities by insisting with overstrained emphasis
on a particular interpretation of them. The book would be more truthful
and more pleasing if the editor's connecting comments were more simply
written, and made less pretension to intensity and energy of language.
Yet with all drawbacks of what seem to us imperfect taste, an imperfect
standard of character, and an imperfect appreciation of what there is
in the world beyond a given circle of interests, the book does what a
biography ought to do--it shows us a remarkable man, and it gives us
the means of forming our own judgment about him. It is not a tame
panegyric or a fancy picture.

The main portion of the book consists of Mr. Robertson's own letters,
and his own accounts of himself; and we are allowed to see him, in a
great degree at least, as he really was. The editor draws a moral,
indeed, and tells us what we ought to think about what we see; but we
can use our own judgment about that. And, as so often happens in real
life, what we see both attracts and repels; it calls forth,
successively and in almost equal measure, warm sympathy and admiration,
and distinct and hearty disagreement. At least there is nothing of
commonplace--of what is commonplace yet in our generation; though there
is a good deal that bids fair to become commonplace in the next. It is
the record of a genuine spontaneous character, seeking its way, its
duty, its perfection, with much sincerity and elevation of purpose, and
many anxieties and sorrows, and not, we doubt not, without much of the
fruits that come with real self-devotion; a record disclosing a man
with great faults and conspicuous blanks in his nature, one with whose
principles, taste, or judgment we constantly find ourselves having a
vehement quarrel, just after having been charmed and conciliated by
some unexpectedly powerful or refined statement of an important truth.
We cannot think, and few besides his own friends will think, that he
had laid his hand with so sure an accuracy and with so much promise
upon the clue which others had lost or bungled over. But there is much
to learn in his thoughts and words, and there is not less to learn from
his life. It is the life of a man who did not spare himself in
fulfilling what he received as his task, who sacrificed much in order
to speak his message, as he thought, more worthily and to do his office
more effectually, and whose career touches us the more from the shadow
of suffering and early death that hangs over its aspirations and
activity. A book which fairly shows us such a life is not of less value
because it also shows us much that we regret and condemn.

Mr. Robertson was brought up not only in the straitest traditions of
the Evangelical school, but in the heat of its controversial warfare.
His heart, when he was a boy, was set on entering the army; and one of
his most characteristic points through life, shown in many very
different forms, was his pugnacity, his keen perception of the
"_certaminis gaudia_":--

    "There is something of combativeness in me," he writes, "which
    prevents the whole vigour being drawn out, except when I have an
    antagonist to deal with, a falsehood to quell, or a wrong to
    avenge. Never till then does my mind feel quite alive. Could I
    have chosen my own period of the world to have lived in, and my
    own type of life, it should be the feudal ages, and the life of a
    Cid, the redresser of wrongs."

    "On the other hand," writes his biographer, "when he met men who
    despised Christianity, or who, like the Roman Catholics, held to
    doctrines which he believed untrue, this very enthusiasm and
    unconscious excitement swept him sometimes beyond himself. He
    could not moderate his indignation down to the cool level of
    ordinary life. Hence he was wanting at this time in the wise
    tolerance which formed so conspicuous a feature of his maturer
    manhood. He held to his own views with pertinacity. He believed
    them to be true; and he almost refused to allow the possibility of
    the views of others having truth in them also. He was more or less
    one-sided at this period. With the Roman Catholic religion it was
    war to the death, not in his later mode of warfare, by showing the
    truth which lay beneath the error, but by denouncing the error. He
    seems invariably, with the pugnacity of a young man, to have
    attacked their faith; and the mode in which this was done was
    startlingly different from that which afterwards he adopted."

He yielded, after considerable resistance, to the wishes and advice of
his friends, that he should prepare for orders. "With a romantic
instinct of self-sacrifice," says his biographer, "he resolved to give
up the idea of his whole life." This we can quite understand; but with
that propensity of biographers to credit their subject with the
desirable qualities which it may be supposed that they ought to have,
besides those which they really have, the editor proceeds to observe
that this would scarcely have happened had not Mr. Robertson's
"_characteristic self-distrust_ disposed him to believe that he was
himself the worst judge of his future profession." This is the way in
which the true outline of a character is blurred and confused, in order
to say something proper and becoming. Self-distrust was not among the
graces or weaknesses of Mr. Robertson's nature, unless indeed we
mistake for it the anxiety which even the stoutest heart may feel at a
crisis, or the dissatisfaction which the proudest may feel at the
interval between attempt and achievement.

He was an undergraduate at Brasenose at the height of the Oxford
movement. He was known there, so far as he was known at all, as a keen
partisan of the Evangelical school; and though no one then suspected
the power which was really in him, his party, not rich in men of
strength or promise, made the most of a recruit who showed ability and
entered heartily into their watchwords, and, it must be said, their
rancour. He was conspicuous among the young men of his standing for the
forwardness with which he took his side against "Tractarianism," and
the vehemence of his dislike of it, and for the almost ostentatious and
defiant prominence which he gave to the convictions and social habits
of his school He expressed his scorn and disgust at the "donnishness,"
the coldness, the routine, the want of heart, which was all that he
could see at Oxford out of the one small circle of his friends. He
despised the Oxford course of work, and would have nothing more to do
with it than he could help--as he lived to regret afterwards. Yet even
then he was in his tastes and the instinctive tendencies of his mind
above his party. He was an admiring reader of Wordsworth and Shelley;
he felt the strength of Aristotle and Plato; he is said to have
appreciated Mr. Newman's preaching, and to have gallantly defended what
he admired in him and his friends. His editor, indeed, Mr. Brooke,
appears to be a little divided and embarrassed, between his wish to
enforce Mr. Robertson's largeness of mind and heart, and his fear of
giving countenance to suspicions that he was ever so little inclined to
"High Churchism"; between his desire to show that Mr. Robertson
estimated the High Church leaders as much as an intelligent man ought,
and disliked their system as much as a sound-thinking Christian ought.
We should have thought that he need not be so solicitous to "set at
rest the question about Mr. Robertson's High Church tendencies." "I
hate High Churchism," was one of his latest declarations, when
professing his sympathy with individual High Churchmen. One thing,
however, is quite clear--that in his early life his partisanship was
thoroughgoing and unflinching enough to satisfy the fiercest and most
fanatical of their opponents. Such a representation as this is simply
misleading:--

    The almost fierceness with which he speaks against the Tract
    school is proof in him of the strength of the attraction it
    possessed for him, just as afterwards at Brighton his attacks on
    Evangelicalism are proof of the strength with which he once held
    to that form of Christianity, and the force of the reaction with
    which he abandoned it for ever. Out of these two reactions--when
    their necessary ultra tendencies had been mellowed down by
    time--emerged at last the clearness and the just balance of
    principles with which he taught during 1848 and the following
    years, at Brighton. He had probed both schools of theological
    thought to their recesses, and had found them wanting. He spoke of
    what he knew when he protested against both. He spoke also of what
    he knew when he publicly recognised the Spirit of all good moving
    in the lives of those whose opinions he believed to be erroneous.

It is absurd to say, because he sometimes spoke of the "danger" he had
been in from "Tractarianism," that he had felt in equal degree the
"strength of attraction" towards the one school and towards the other,
and it is equally absurd to talk of his "having probed both to their
recesses." He read, and argued, and discussed the pamphlets of the
controversy--the "replies," Mr. Brooke says, with more truth probably
than he thought of in using the word--like other undergraduates who
took interest in what was going on, and thought themselves fit to
choose their side. With his tutor and friend, Mr. Churton, he read
Taylor's _Ancient Christianity_, carefully looking out the passages
from the Fathers. "I am reading the early Church history with
Golightly," he says, "which is a very great advantage, as he has a fund
of general information and is a close reader." But we must doubt
whether this involved "probing to the recesses" the "Tractarian" side
of the question. And we distrust the depth and the judgment, and the
impartiality also of a man who is said to have read Newman's sermons
continually with delight to the day of his death, and by whom no book
was more carefully studied and more highly honoured than _The Christian
Year_, and who yet to the last could see nothing better in the Church
movement as a whole than, according to the vulgar view of it, a revival
of forms partly useful, partly hurtful It seems to us the great
misfortune of his life, and one which exercised its evil influence on
him to the end, that, thrown young into the narrowest and weakest of
religious schools, he found it at first so congenial to his vehement
temperament, that he took so kindly to certain of its more unnatural
and ungenerous ways, and thus was cut off from the larger and healthier
influences of the society round him. Those were days when older men
than he took their side too precipitately; but he found himself
encouraged, even as an undergraduate, to dogmatise, to be positive, to
hate, to speak evil. He learnt the lesson too well. This is the
language of an undergraduate at the end of his university course;--

    But I seem this term to have in a measure waked out of a long
    trance, partly caused by my own gross inconsistencies, and partly
    by the paralysing effects of this Oxford-delusion heresy, for such
    it is I feel persuaded. And to know it a man must live here, and
    he will see the promising and ardent men sinking one after another
    in a deadly torpor, wrapped up in self-contemplation, dead to
    their Redeemer, and useless to His Church, under the baneful
    breath of this accursed upas tree. I say accursed, because I
    believe that St. Paul would use the same language to Oxford as he
    did to the Galatian Church, "I would they were even cut off which
    trouble you"; accursed, because I believe that the curse of God
    will fall on it He has denounced it on the Papal hereby, and he is
    no respecter of persons, to punish the name and not the reality.
    May He forgive me if I err, and lead me into all truth. But I do
    not speak as one who has been in no clanger, and therefore cannot
    speak very quietly. It is strange into what ramifications the
    disbelief of external justification will extend; _we will_ make it
    internal, whether it be by self-mortification, by works of
    evangelical obedience, or by the sacraments, and that just at the
    time when we suppose most that we are magnifying the work of the
    Lord.

Mr. Brooke rather likes to dwell, as it seems to us, in an unreal and
disproportionate way, on Mr. Robertson's sufferings, in the latter part
of his life, from the bitter and ungenerous attacks of which he was the
object. "This is the man," he says in one place, "who was afterwards at
Brighton driven into the deepest solitariness of heart, whom God
thought fit to surround with slander and misunderstanding." He was, we
doubt not, fiercely assailed by the Evangelical party, which he had
left, and which he denounced in no gentle language; he was, as we can
well believe, "constantly attacked, by some manfully, by others in an
underhand manner, and was the victim of innuendoes and slander." We
cannot, however, help thinking that Mr. Brooke unconsciously
exaggerates the solitariness and want of sympathy which went with all
this. Mr. Robertson had, and knew that he had, his ardent and
enthusiastic admirers as well as his worrying and untiring opponents.
But what we remark is this. It was the measure which he had meted out
to others, in the fierceness of his zeal for Evangelicalism, which the
Evangelicals afterwards meted out to him. They did not more talk evil
of what they knew not and had taken no real pains to understand, than
he had done of a body of men as able, as well-instructed, as
deep-thinking, as brave, as earnest as himself in their war against sin
and worldliness. The stupidity, the perverse ill-nature, the resolute
ignorance, the audacious and fanatical application of Scripture
condemnations, the reckless judging without a desire to do justice,
which he felt and complained of so bitterly when turned against
himself, he had sanctioned and largely shared in when the same party
which attacked him in the end attacked the earlier revivers of
thoughtful and earnest religion. Nor do we find that he ever expressed
regret for a vehemence of condemnation which his after-knowledge must
have shown him that he had no business to pass, because, even if he
afterwards adhered to it, he had originally passed it on utterly false
and inadequate grounds. He only became as fierce against the
Evangelicals as he had been against the followers of Mr. Newman. He
never unlearnt the habit of harsh reprobation which his Evangelical
friends had encouraged. He only transferred its full force against
themselves.

He left Oxford and began his ministry, first at Winchester, and then at
Cheltenham, full of Evangelical _formulae_ and Evangelical narrow zeal.
It does not appear that, except as an earnest hard-working clergyman,
he was in any way distinguished from numbers of the same class, though
we are quite willing to believe that even then his preaching, in warmth
and vigour, was above the average. But as he, or his biographer, says,
he had not yet really begun to think. When he began to think, he did so
with the rapidity, the intensity, the impatient fervid vehemence which
lay all along at the bottom of his character. His Evangelical views
appear to have snapped to pieces and dissolved with a violence and
sudden abruptness entirely unaccounted for by anything which these
volumes show us. He read Carlyle; but so did many other people. He
found the religious world at Cheltenham not so pure as he had imagined
it; but this is what must have happened anywhere, and is not enough to
account for such a complete revolution of belief. He had a friend
deeply read in German philosophy and criticism who is said to have
exercised influence on him. Still, we repeat, the steps and processes
of the change from the Evangelicalism of Cheltenham to a condition, at
first, of almost absolute doubt, are very imperfectly explained:--

    These letters were written in 1843. In the following year doubts
    and questionings began to stir in his mind. He could not get rid
    of them. They were forced upon him by his reading and his
    intercourse with men. They grew and tortured him. His teaching in
    the pulpit altered, and it became painful to him to preach. He was
    reckoned of the Evangelical school, and he began to feel that his
    position was becoming a false one. He felt the excellence and
    earnestness, and gladly recognised the work of the nobler portion
    of that party, but he felt also that he must separate from it. In
    his strong reaction from its extreme tendencies, he understood
    with a shock which upturned his whole inward life for a time, that
    the system on which he had founded his whole faith and work could
    never be received by him again. Within its pale, for him, there
    was henceforward neither life, peace, nor reality. It was not,
    however, till almost the end of his ministry at Cheltenham that
    this became clearly manifest to him. It had been growing slowly
    into a conviction. An outward blow--the sudden ruin of a
    friendship which he had wrought, as he imagined, for ever into his
    being--a blow from which he never afterwards wholly
    recovered--accelerated the inward crisis, and the result was a
    period of spiritual agony so awful that it not only shook his
    health to its centre, but smote his spirit down into so profound a
    darkness that of all his early faiths but one remained, "It must
    be right to do right."

This seems to have been in 1846, and in the beginning of the next year
he had already taken his new line. The explanation does not explain
much. We have no right to ask for more than his friends think fit to
tell us of this turning-point of his life. But we observe that this
deeply important passage is left with but little light and much
manifest reticence. That the crisis took place we have his own touching
and eloquent words to assure us. It left him also as firm in his
altered convictions as he had been in his old ones. What caused it,
what were its circumstances and characteristics, and what affected its
course and results, we can only guess. But it was decisive and it was
speedy. He spent a few months in Germany in the end of 1846, and in the
beginning of 1847 the Bishop of Oxford was willing to appoint him to
St. Ebbe's. But his stay there was short. Three months afterwards he
accepted the chapel at Brighton which he held till his death in August
1853.

He was now the Robertson whom all the world knows, and the change was a
most remarkable one. It seems strictly accurate to say that he started
at once into a new man--new in all his views and tastes; new in the
singular burst of power which at once shows itself in the keen, free,
natural language of his letters and his other writings; new in the deep
concentrated earnestness of character with which he seemed to grasp his
peculiar calling and function. All the conventionalities of his old
school, which hung very thick about him even to the end of his
Cheltenham life, seem suddenly to drop off, and leave him, without a
trace remaining on his mind, in the full use and delight of his new
liberty. We cannot say that we are more inclined to agree with him in
his later stage than in his earlier. And the rapid transformation of a
most dogmatic and zealous Evangelical into an equally positive and
enthusiastic "Broad Churchman" does not seem a natural or healthy
process, and suggests impatience and self-confidence more than
self-command and depth. But we get, without doubt, to a real man--a man
whose words have a meaning, and stand for real things; whose language
no longer echoes the pale dreary commonplaces of a school, but reveals
thoughts which he has thought for himself, and the power of being able
"to speak as he will." His mind seems to expand, almost at a bound, to
all the manifold variety of interests of which the world is full. His
letters on his own doings, on the books and subjects of the day, on the
remarks or the circumstances of his friends, his criticism, his satire,
his controversial or friendly discussions, are full of energy,
versatility, refinement, boldness, and strength; and his remarkable
power of clear, picturesque, expressive diction, not unworthy of our
foremost masters of English, appears all at once, as it were, full
grown. It is difficult to believe, as we read the later portions of his
life, that we are reading about the same man who appeared, so short a
time before, at the beginning, to promise at best to turn into a
popular Evangelical preacher, above the average, perhaps, in taste and
power, but not above the average in freedom from cramping and sour
prejudices.

Mr. Robertson had hold of some great truths, and he applied them, both
in his own thoughts and self-development and in his popular teaching,
with great force. He realised two things with a depth and intensity
which give an awful life and power to all he said about religion. He
realised with singular and pervading keenness that which a greater man
than he speaks of as the first and the great discovery of the awakened
soul--" the thought of two, and two only, supreme and luminously
self-evident beings, himself and the Creator." "Alone with God,"
expresses the feeling which calmed his own anxieties and animated his
religious appeals to others. And he realised with equal earnestness the
great truth which is spoken of by Mr. Brooke, though in language which
to us has an unpleasant sound, in the following extract:

    Yet, notwithstanding all this--which men called while he lived,
    and now when he is dead will call, want of a clear and
    well-defined system of theology--he had a fixed basis for his
    teaching. It was the Divine-human Life of Christ. It is the fourth
    principle mentioned in his letter, "that belief in the human
    character of Christ must be antecedent to belief in His divine
    origin." He felt that an historical Christianity was absolutely
    essential; that only through a visible life of the Divines in the
    flesh could God become intelligible to men; that Christ was God's
    idea of our nature realised; that only when we fall back on the
    glorious portrait of what has been, ran we be delivered from
    despair of Humanity; that in Christ "all the blood of all the
    nations ran," and all the powers of man were redeemed. Therefore
    he grasped as the highest truth, on which to rest life and
    thought, the reality expressed in the words, "the Word was made
    Flesh." The Incarnation was to him the centre of all history, the
    blossoming of Humanity. The Life which followed the Incarnation
    was the explanation of the Life of God, and the only solution of
    the problem of the Life of man. He did not speak much of loving
    Christ; his love was fitly mingled with that veneration which
    makes love perfect; his voice was solemn, and he paused before he
    spoke His name in common talk; for what that name meant had become
    the central thought of his intellect and the deepest realisation
    of his spirit. He had spent a world of study, of reverent
    meditation, of adoring contemplation, on the Gospel history.
    Nothing comes forward more frequently in his letters than the way
    in which he had entered into the human life of Christ. To that
    everything is referred--by that everything is explained.

In bringing home these great truths to the feelings of those who had
lived insensible to them lay the chief value of his preaching. He
awakened men to believe that there was freshness and reality in things
which they had by use become dulled to. There are no doubt minds which
rise to the truth most naturally and freely without the intervention of
dogmatic expressions, and to these such expressions, as they are a
limit and a warning, are also felt as a clog. Mr. Robertson's early
experience had made him suspicious and irritable about dogma as such;
and he prided himself on being able to dispense with it, while at the
same time preserving the principle and inner truth which it was
intended to convey. But in his ostentatious contempt of dogmatic
precision and exactness, none but those who have not thought about the
matter will see any proof of his strength or wisdom. Dogma, accurate,
subtle, scientific, does not prevent a mind of the first order from
breathing freshness of feeling, grandeur, originality, and the sense of
reality, into the exposition of the truth which it represents. It is no
fetter except to those minds which in their impulsiveness, their
self-confidence, and their want of adequate grasp and sustained force,
most need its salutary restraint. And no man has a right, however
eloquent and impressive his speech may be, to talk against dogma till
he shows that he does not confound accuracy of statement with
conventional formalism. Mr. Robertson lays down the law pretty
confidently about the blunders of everybody about him--Tractarian,
Evangelical, Dissenter, Romanist, and Rationalist. We must say that the
impression of every page of his letters is, that clear and "intuitive"
as he was, he had not always understood what he condemned. He was
especially satisfied with a view of Baptism which he thought rose above
both extremes and took in the truth of both while it avoided their
errors. But is it too much to say that a man who, not in the heat of
rhetoric, but when preparing candidates for Confirmation, and piquing
himself on his freedom from all prejudice, deliberately describes the
common Church view of Baptism as implying a "magical" change, and
actually illustrates what he means by the stories of magical changes in
the _Arabian Nights_--who knowing, or able to read, all that has been
said by divines on the subject from the days of Augustine, yet commits
himself to the assertion that this is in fact what they hold and
teach--is it too much to say that such a man, whatever may be his other
gifts, has forfeited all claim to be considered capable of writing and
expressing himself with accuracy, truth, and distinctness on
theological questions? And if theological questions are to be dealt
with, ought they not to be dealt with accurately, and not loosely?

But we have lingered too long over these volumes. They are very
instructive, sometimes very elevating, almost always very touching. The
life which they describe greatly wanted discipline, self-restraint, and
the wise and manly fear of overrating one's own novelties. But we see
in it a life consecrated to duty, fulfilled with much pain and
self-sacrifice, and adorned by warm and deep affections, by vigour and
refinement of thought, and earnest love for truth and purity. No one
can help feeling his profound and awful sense of things unseen, though
in the philosophy by which he sought to connect things seen and things
unseen, we cannot say that we can have much confidence. We have only
one concluding remark to make, and that is not on him but on his
biographer. An exaggerated tone, as we have said, seems to us to
pervade the book. There is what seems to us an unhealthy attempt to
create in the reader an impression of the exceptional severity of the
sufferings of Mr. Robertson's life, of his loneliness, of his
persecutions. But in this point much may fairly be pardoned to the
affection of a friend. What, however, we can less excuse is the want of
good feeling with which Mr. Brooke, in his account of Mr. Robertson's
last days, allows himself to give an _ex parte_, account of a dispute
between Mr. Robertson and the Vicar of Brighton, about the appointment
of a curate, and not simply to insinuate, but distinctly declare that
this dispute with its result was the fatal stroke which, in his state
of ill-health, hastened his death. We say nothing about the rights of
the story, for we never heard anything of them but what Mr. Brooke
tells us. But there is an appearance of vindictiveness in putting it on
record with this particular aspect which nothing in the story itself
seems to us to justify. In describing Mr. Robertson's departure from
Cheltenham, Mr. Brooke has plainly thought right to use much reticence.
He would have done well to have used the same reticence about these
quarrels at Brighton.



XVI

LIFE OF BARON BUNSEN[19]


  [19]
  _A Memoir of Baron Bunsen_. By his Widow, Baroness Bunsen. _Saturday
  Review_, 2nd May 1868.

Bunsen was really one of those persons, more common two centuries ago
than now, who could belong as much to an adopted country as to that in
which they were born and educated. A German of the Germans, he yet
succeeded in also making himself at home in England, in appreciating
English interests, in assimilating English thought and traditions, and
exercising an important influence at a critical time on one extremely
important side of English life and opinion. He was less felicitous in
allying the German with the Englishman, perhaps from personal
peculiarities of impatience, self-assertion, and haste, than one who
has since trodden in his steps and realised more completely and more
splendidly some of the great designs which floated before his mind. But
few foreigners have gained more fairly, by work and by sympathy, the
_droit de cité_ in England than Bunsen.

It is a great pity that books must be so long and so bulky, and though
Bunsen's life was a very full and active one in all matters of
intellectual interest, and in some of practical interest also, we
cannot help thinking that his biography would have gained by greater
exercise of self-denial on the part of his biographer. It is altogether
too prolix, and the distinction is not sufficiently observed between
what is interesting simply to the Bunsen family and their friends, and
what is interesting to the public. One of the points in which
biographers, and the present author among the number, make mistakes, is
in their use of letters. They never know when to stop in giving
correspondence. If we had only one or two letters of a remarkable map,
they would be worth printing, even if they were very much like other
people's letters. But when we have bundles and letter-books without end
to select from, selection, in a work professedly biographical, becomes
advisable. We want types and specimens of a man's letters; and when the
specimen has been given, we want no more, unless what is given is for
its own sake remarkable. A great number of Bunsen's early letters are
printed. Some of them are of much interest, showing how early the germs
were formed of ideas and plans which occupied his life, and what were
the influences by which he was surrounded, and how he comported himself
in regard to them. But many more of these letters are what any young
man of thought and of an affectionate nature might have written; and we
do not want to have it shown us, over and over again, merely that
Bunsen was thoughtful and affectionate. A wise and severe economy in
this matter would have produced at least the same effect, at much less
cost to the reader.

Bunsen was born in 1791, at Corbach, in the little principality of
Waldeck, and grew up under the severe and simple training of a frugal
German household, and with a solid and vigorous German education. He
became in time Heyne's pupil at Göttingen, and very early showed the
qualities which distinguished him in his after life--restless eagerness
after knowledge and vast powers of labour, combined with large and
ambitious, and sometimes vague, ideas, and with depth and fervour of
religious sentiment. He entered on life when the reaction against the
cold rationalistic theories of the age before him was stimulated by the
excitement of the war of liberation; and in his deep and supreme
interest in the Bible he kept to the last the stamp which he then
received. More interesting than the recollections of a distinguished
man's youth by his friends after he has become distinguished--which are
seldom quite natural and not always trustworthy--are the contemporary
records of the impressions made on _him_ in his youth by those who were
distinguished men when he was young. In some of Bunsen's letters we
have such impressions. Thus he writes of Heyne in 1813:--

    Poor and lonely did I arrive in this place [Göttingen]. Heyne
    received me, guided me, bore with me, encouraged me, showed me in
    himself the example of a high and noble energy, and indefatigable
    activity in a calling which was not that to which his merit
    entitled him. He might have superintended and administered and
    maintained an entire kingdom without more effort and with yet
    greater efficiency than the University for which he lived; he was
    too great for a mere philologer, and in general for a professor of
    mere learning in the age into which he was cast, and he was more
    distinguished in every other way than in this.... And what has he
    established or founded at the cost of this exertion of faculties?
    Learning annihilates itself, and the most perfect is the first
    submerged; for the next age scales with ease the height which cost
    the preceding the full vigour of life. Yet two things remain of
    him and will not perish--the one, the tribute left by his free
    spirit to the finest productions of the human mind; and what he
    felt, thought, and has immortalised in many men of excellence gone
    before. Read his explanations of Tischbein's engravings from
    Homer, his last preface to Virgil, and especially his oration on
    the death of Müller, and you will understand what I mean. I speak
    not of his political instinct, made evident in his survey of the
    public and private life of the ancients. The other memorial which
    will subsist of him, more warm in life than the first, is the
    remembrance of his generosity, to which numbers owe a deep
    obligation.

And of Schelling, about the same time, whom he had just seen in Munich:--

    Schelling before all must be mentioned as having received me well,
    after his fashion, giving me frequent occasions of becoming
    acquainted with his philosophical views and judgments, in his own
    original and peculiar manner. His mode of disputation is rough and
    angular; his peremptoriness and his paradoxes terrible. Once he
    undertook to explain animal magnetism, and for this purpose to
    give an idea of Time, from which resulted that all is present and
    in existence--the Present as existing in the actual moment; the
    Future, as existing in a future moment. When I demanded the proof,
    he referred me to the word _is_, which applies to existence, in
    the sentence that "this _is_ future." Seckendorf, who was present
    (with him I have become closely acquainted, to my great
    satisfaction), attempted to draw attention to the confounding the
    subjective (i.e. him who pronounces that sentence) with the
    objective; or, rather, to point out a simple grammatical
    misunderstanding--in short, declared the position impossible.
    "Well," replied Schelling drily, "you have not understood me." Two
    Professors (his worshippers), who were present, had meanwhile
    endeavoured by their exclamations, "Only observe, all _is_, all
    _exists_" (to which the wife of Schelling, a clever woman,
    assented), to help me into conviction; and a vehement beating the
    air--for arguing and holding fast by any firm point were out of
    the question--would have arisen, if I had not contrived to escape
    by giving a playful turn to the conversation. I am perfectly aware
    that Schelling _could_ have expressed and carried through his real
    opinion far better--i.e. rationally. I tell the anecdote merely
    to give an idea of his manner in conversation.

At Göttingen he was one of a remarkable set, comprising Lachmann,
Lücke, Brandis, and some others, thought as much of at the time as
their friends, but who failed to make their way to the front ranks of
the world. Like others of his countrymen, Bunsen began to find "that
the world's destinies were not without their effect on him," and to
feel dissatisfied with the comparatively narrow sphere of even German
learning. The thought grew, and took possession of him, of "bringing
over, into his knowledge and into his fatherland, the solemn and
distant East," and to "draw the East into the study of the entire
course of humanity (particularly of European, and more especially of
Teutonic humanity)," making Germany the "central point of this study."
Vast plans of philological and historical study, involving, as the only
means then possible of carrying them out, schemes of wide travel and
long sojourn in the East, opened on him. Indian and Persian literature,
the instinctive certainty of its connection with the languages and
thought of the West, and the imperfection of means of study in Europe,
drew him, as many more were drawn at the time, to seek the knowledge
which they wanted in foreign and distant lands. With Bunsen, this wide
and combined study of philology, history, and philosophy, which has
formed one of the characteristic pursuits of our time, was from the
first connected with the study of the Bible as its central point. In
1815 came a decisive turning-point in his life--his acquaintance, and
the beginning of his close connection, with Niebuhr, at Berlin; and
from this time he felt himself a Prussian. "That State in Northern
Germany," he writes to Brandis in 1815, "which gladly receives every
German, from wheresoever he may come, and considers every one thus
entering as a citizen born, is _the true Germany_":--

    That such a State [he proceeds, in the true Bismarckian spirit]
    should prove inconvenient to others of inferior importance, which
    persist in continuing their isolated existence, regardless of the
    will of Providence and of the general good, is of no consequence
    whatever; nor even does it matter that, in its present management,
    there are defects and imperfections.... We intend to be in Berlin
    in three weeks; and there (in Prussia) am I resolved to fix my
    destinies.

After reading Persian for a short time in Paris with De Sacy, and after
the failure of a plan of travel with Mr. Astor of New York, Bunsen
joined Niebuhr at Florence in the end of 1816, and went on with him to
Rome, where Niebuhr was Prussian envoy. There, enjoying Niebuhr's
society, "equally sole in his kind with Rome," he took up his abode,
and plunged into study. He gave up his plans of Oriental travel,
finding he could do all that he wanted without them. Too much a
student, as he writes to a friend, to think of marrying, which he could
not do "without impairing his whole scheme of mental development," he
nevertheless found his fate in an English lady, Miss Waddington, who
became his wife. And, finally, when the health of his friend Brandis,
Niebuhr's secretary in the Prussian Legation, broke down, Bunsen took
his place, and entered on that combined path of study and diplomacy in
which he continued for the greater part of his life.

It may be questioned whether Bunsen's career answered altogether
successfully to what he proposed to himself, or was in fact all that
his friends and he himself thought it; but it was eminently one in
which from the first he had laid down for himself a plan of life which
he tenaciously followed through many changes and varieties of work,
without ever losing sight of the purpose with which he began. He piqued
himself on having early seen that a man ought to have an object to
which to devote his whole life--"be it a dictionary like Johnson's or a
history like Gibbon's"--and on having discerned and chosen his own
object. And at an early time of his life in Rome he draws an outline of
thought and inquiry, destined to break off into many different labours,
in very much the same language in which he might have described it in
the last year of his life:--

    _The consciousness of God in the mind of man, and that which in
    and through that consciousness He has accomplished, especially in
    language and religion_, this was from the earliest time before my
    mind. After having awhile fancied to attain my point, sometimes
    here, sometimes there, at length (it was in the Christmas holidays
    of 1812, after having gained the prize in November) I made a
    general and comprehensive plan. I wished to go through and
    represent heathen antiquity, in its principal phases, in three
    great periods of the world's history, according to its languages,
    its religious conceptions, and its political institutions; first
    of all in the East, where the earliest expressions in each are
    highly remarkable, although little known; then in the second great
    epoch, among the Greeks and Romans; thirdly, among the Teutonic
    nations, who put an end to the Roman Empire.

    At first I thought of Christianity only as something which every
    one, like the mother tongue, knows intuitively, and therefore not
    as the object of a peculiar study. But in January 1816, when I for
    the last time took into consideration all that belonged to my
    plan, and wrote it down, I arrived at this conclusion, that as God
    had caused the conception of Himself to be developed in the mind
    of man in a twofold manner, the one through revelation to the
    Jewish people through their patriarchs, the other through reason
    in the heathen; so also must the inquiry and representation of
    this development be twofold; and as God had kept these two ways
    for a length of time independent and separate, so should we, in
    the course of the examination, separate knowledge from man, and
    his development from the doctrine of revelation and faith, firmly
    trusting that God in the end would bring about the union of both.
    This is now also my firm conviction, that we must not mix them or
    bring them together forcibly, as many have done with well-meaning
    zeal but unclear views, and as many in Germany with impure designs
    are still doing.

The design had its interruptions, both intellectual and practical. The
plan was an ambitious one, too ambitious for Bunsen's time and powers,
or even probably for our own more advanced stage of knowledge; and
Bunsen ever found it hard to resist the attractions of a new object of
interest, and did not always exhaust it, though he seldom touched
anything without throwing light on it. Thus he was drawn by
circumstances to devote a good deal of time, more than he intended, to
the mere antiquarianism of Rome. By and by he found himself succeeding
Niebuhr as the diplomatic representative of Prussia at Rome. And his
attempt to meet the needs of his own strong devotional feelings by
giving more warmth and interest to the German services at the embassy,
"the congregation on the Capitoline Hill," led him, step by step, to
those wider schemes for liturgical reform which influenced so
importantly the course of his fortunes. They brought him, a young and
unknown man, with little more than Niebuhr's good word, into direct and
confidential communication with the King of Prussia, who was then
intent on plans of the same kind, and who recognised in Bunsen, after
some preliminary jealousy and misgivings, the man most fitted to assist
in carrying them out. But though Bunsen, who started with the resolve
of being both a student and a scholar, was driven, as he thought
against his will, into paths which led him deeper and deeper into
public life and diplomacy, his early plans were never laid aside even
under the stress of official employment. Perhaps it may be difficult to
strike the balance of what they lost or gained by it.

The account of his life at Rome contains much that is interesting.
There is the curious mixture of sympathy and antipathy in Bunsen's mind
for the place itself; the antipathy of a German, a Protestant, and a
free inquirer, for the Roman, the old Catholic, the narrow, timid,
traditional spirit which pervaded everything in the great seat of
clerical and Papal government; and the sympathy, scarcely less intense,
not merely, or in the first place, for the classical aspects of Rome,
but for its religious character, as still the central point of
Christendom, full of the memorials and the savour of the early days of
Christianity, mingling with what its many centuries of history have
added to them; and for all that aroused the interest and touched the
mind of one deeply busy with two great religious problems--the best
forms for Christian worship, and the restoration, if possible, of some
organisation and authority in Protestant Germany. For a long time
Bunsen, like his master Niebuhr, was on the best terms with Cardinals,
Monsignori, and Popes. The Roman services were no objects to him of
abhorrence or indifference. He saw, in the midst of accretions, the
remains of the more primitive devotion; and the architecture, the art,
and the music, to be found only in Rome, were to him inexhaustible
sources of delight. As may be supposed, letters like Bunsen's, and the
recollections of his biographer, are full of interesting gossip;
notices of famous people, and of things that happened in Rome in the
days of the Emancipation and Reform Bills, Revolutions of Naples in
'20 and France in '30, during the twenty years, from 1818 to 1838, in
which the men of the great war and the restorations were going off the
scene, and the men of the modern days--Liberals, High Churchmen,
Ultra-montanes--were coming on. Those twenty years, of course, were not
without their changes in Bunsen's own views. The man who had come to
Rome, in position a poor and obscure student, had grown into the oracle
of a highly cultivated society, whose acquaintance was eagerly sought
by every one of importance who lived at Rome or visited it, and into
the diplomatic representative of one of the great Powers. The scholar
had come to have, not merely theories, but political and ecclesiastical
aims. The disciple of Niebuhr, who at one time had seen all things very
much as Niebuhr saw them in his sad later days of disgust at revolution
and cynical despair of liberty, had come since under the influence of
Arnold, and, as his letters to Arnold show, had taken into his own mind
much of the more generous and hopeful, though vague, teaching of that
equally fervid teacher of liberalism and of religion. These letters are
of much interest. They show the dreams and the fears and antipathies of
the time; they contain some remarkable anticipations, some equally
remarkable miscalculations, and some ideas and proposals which, with
our experience, excite our wonder that any one could have imagined them
practicable. Every one knows that Bunsen's diplomatic career at Rome
ended unfortunately. He was mixed up with the violent proceedings of
the Prussian Government in the dispute with the Archbishop of Cologne
about marriages between Protestants and Catholics, and he had the
misfortune to offend equally both his own Court and that of Rome. It is
possible that, as is urged in the biography before us, he was
sacrificed to the blunders and the enmities of powers above him. But,
for whatever reason, no clear account is given of the matter by his
biographer, though a good deal is suggested; and in the absence of
intelligible explanations the conclusion is natural that, though he may
have been ill-used, he may also have been unequal to his position.

But his ill-success or his ill-usage at Rome was more than compensated
by the results to which it may be said to have led. Out of it
ultimately came that which gave the decisive character to Bunsen's
life--his settlement in London as Prussian Minister. On leaving Rome he
came straight to England He came full of admiration and enthusiasm to
"his Ithaca, his island fatherland," and he was flattered and delighted
by the welcome he received, and by the power which he perceived in
himself, beyond that of most foreigners, to appreciate and enjoy
everything English. He liked everything--people, country, and
institutions; even, as his biographer writes, our rooks. The zest of
his enjoyment was not diminished by his keen sense of what appear to
foreigners our characteristic defects--the want of breadth of interest
and boldness of speculative thought which accompanies so much energy in
public life and so much practical success; and he seems to have felt in
himself a more than ordinary fitness to be a connecting link between
the two nations--that he had much to teach Englishmen, and that they
were worth teaching. He thoroughly sympathised with the earnestness and
strong convictions of English religion; but he thought it lamentably
destitute of rational grounds, of largeness of idea and of critical
insight, enslaved to the letter, and afraid of inquiry. But, with all
drawbacks, his visit to England made it a very attractive place to him;
and when he was appointed by his Government Envoy to the Swiss
Confederation, with strict injunctions "to do nothing," his eyes were
oft on turned towards England. In 1840 the King of Prussia died, and
Bunsen's friend and patron, the Crown Prince, became Frederic William
IV. He resembled Bunsen in more ways than one; in his ardent religious
sentiment, in his eagerness, in his undoubting and not always
far-sighted self-confidence and self-assertion, and in a combination of
practical vagueness of view and a want of understanding men, with a
feverish imperiousness in carrying out a favourite plan. In 1841 he
sent Bunsen to England to negotiate the ill-considered and precipitate
arrangement for the Jerusalem bishopric; and on the successful
conclusion of the negotiation, Bunsen was appointed permanently to be
Prussian Minister in London. The manner of appointment was remarkable.
The King sent three names to Lord Aberdeen and the English Court, and
they selected Bunsen's.

Thus Bunsen, who twenty-five years before had sat down a penniless
student, almost in despair at the failure of his hopes as a travelling
tutor, in Orgagna's _loggia_ at Florence, had risen, in spite of real
difficulties and opposition, to a brilliant position in active
political life; and the remarkable point is that, whether he was
ambitious or not of this kind of advancement--and it would perhaps
have been as well on his part to have implied less frequently that he
was not--he was all along, above everything, the student and the
theologian. What is even more remarkable is that, plunged into the
whirl of London public life and society, he continued still to be, more
even than the diplomatist, the student and theologian. The Prussian
Embassy during the years that he occupied it, from 1841 to 1854, was
not an idle place, and Bunsen was not a man to leave important State
business to other hands. The French Revolution, the German Revolution,
the Frankfort Assembly, the question of the revival of the Empire, the
beginnings of the Danish quarrel and of the Crimean war, all fell
within that time, and gave the Prussian Minister in such a centre as
London plenty to think of, to do, and to write about. Yet all this time
was a time of intense and unceasing activity in that field of
theological controversy in which Bunsen took such delight. The
diplomatist entrusted with the gravest affairs of a great Power in the
most critical and difficult times, and fully alive to the interest and
responsibility of his charge, also worked harder than most Professors,
and was as positive and fiery in his religious theories and antipathies
as the keenest and most dogmatic of scholastic disputants, he was busy
about Egyptian chronology, about cuneiform writing, about comparative
philology; he plunged with characteristic eagerness into English
theological war; and such books as his _Church of the Future_, and his
writings on Ignatius and Hippolytus, were not the least important of
the works which marked the progress of the struggle of opinions here.
But they represented only a very small part of the unceasing labour
that was going on in the early morning hours in Carlton House Terrace.
All this time the foundations were being laid and the materials
gathered for books of wider scope and more permanent aim, too vast for
him to accomplish even in his later years of leisure. It is an original
and instructive picture; for though we boast statesmen who still carry
on the great traditions of scholarship, and give room in their minds
for the deeper and more solemn problems of religion and philosophy,
they are not supposed to be able to carry on simultaneously their
public business and their classical or scientific studies, and at any
rate they do not attack the latter with the devouring zeal with which
Bunsen taxed the efforts of hard-driven secretaries and readers to keep
pace with his inexhaustible demands for more and more of the most
abstruse materials of knowledge.

The end of his London diplomatic career was, like the end of his Roman
one, clouded with something like disgrace; and, like the Roman one, is
left here unexplained. But it was for his happiness, probably, that his
residence in England came to a close. He had found the poetry of his
early notions about England, political and theological at least,
gradually changing into prose. He found less and less to like, in what
at first most attracted him, in the English Church; he and it, besides
knowing one another better, were also changing. He probably increased
his sympathies for England, and returned in a measure to his old
kindness for it, by looking at it only from a distance. The labour of
his later days, as vast and indefatigable as that of his earlier days,
was devoted to his great work, which was, as it were, to popularise the
Bible and revive interest in it by a change in the method of presenting
it and commenting on it. To the last the Bible was the central point of
his philosophical as well as his religious thoughts, as it had been in
his first beginnings as a student at Gottingen and Rome. After a life
of many trials, but of unusual prosperity and enjoyment, he died in the
end of 1860. The account of his last days is a very touching one.

We do not pretend to think Bunsen the great and consummate man that,
naturally enough, he appears to his friends. We doubt whether he can be
classed as a man in the first rank at all. We doubt whether he fully
understood his age, and yet it is certain that he was confident and
positive that he did understand it better than most men; and an undue
confidence of this kind implies considerable defects both of intellect
and character. He wanted the patient, cautious, judicial self-distrust
which his studies eminently demanded, and of which he might have seen
some examples in England. No one can read these volumes without seeing
the disproportionate power which first impressions had with him; he was
always ready to say that something, which had just happened or come
before him, was the greatest or the most complete thing of its kind.
Wonderfully active, wonderfully quick and receptive, full of
imagination and of the power of combining and constructing, and never
wearied out or dispirited, his mind took in large and grand ideas, and
developed them with enthusiasm and success, and with all the resources
of wide and varied knowledge; but the affluence and ingenuity of his
thoughts indisposed him, as it indisposes many other able men, to the
prosaic and uninteresting work of calling these thoughts into question,
and cross-examining himself upon their grounds and tenableness. He
tried too much; the multiplicity of his intellectual interests was too
much for him, and he often thought that he was explaining when he was
but weaving a wordy tissue, and "darkening counsel" as much as any of
the theological sciolists whom he denounced. People, for instance,
must, it seems to us, be very easily satisfied who find any fresh light
in the attempt, not unfrequent in his letters, to adapt the Lutheran
watchword of Justification by faith to modern ideas. He was very rapid,
and this rapidity made him hasty and precipitate; it also made him apt
to despise other men, and, what was of more consequence, the
difficulties of the subject likewise. Others did not always find it
easy to understand him; and it may fairly be questioned if he always
sufficiently asked whether he understood himself. He was generous and
large-spirited in intention, though not always so in fact.

Doubtless so much knowledge, so much honest and unsparing toil, such
freshness and quickness of thought, have not been wasted; there will
always be much to learn from Bunsen's writings. But his main service
has been the moral one of his example; of his ardent and high-souled
industry, of his fearlessness in accepting the conclusions of his
inquiries, of his untiring faith through many changes and some
disappointments that there is a way to reconcile all the truths that
interest men--those of religion, and those of nature and history. The
sincerity and earnestness with which he attempted this are a lesson to
everybody; his success is more difficult to recognise, and it may
perhaps be allowable to wish that he had taken more exactly the measure
of the great task which he set to himself. His ambition was a high one.
He aspired to be the Luther of the new 1517 which he so often dwelt
upon, and to construct a theology which, without breaking with the
past, should show what Christianity really is, and command the faith
and fill the opening thought of the present. It can hardly be said that
he succeeded. The Church of the Future still waits its interpreter, to
make good its pretensions to throw the ignorant and mistaken Church of
the Past into the shade.



XVII

COLERIDGE'S MEMOIR OF KEBLE[20]


  [20]
  _A Memoir of the Rev. John Keble_. By the Right Hon. Sir J.T.
  Coleridge. _Saturday Review_, 20th March 1860.

Mr. Keble has been fortunate in his biographer. There have been since
his death various attempts to appreciate a character manifestly of such
depth and interest, yet about which outsiders could find so little to
say. Professor Shairp, of St. Andrews, two or three years ago gave a
charming little sketch, full of heart and insight, and full too of
noble modesty and reverence, which deserves to be rescued from the
danger of being forgotten into which sketches are apt to fall, both on
account of its direct subject, and also for the contemporary evidence
which it contains of the impressions made on a perfectly impartial and
intelligent observer by the early events of the Oxford movement. The
brilliant Dean of Westminster, in _Macmillan's Magazine_, has
attempted, with his usual grace and kindliness, to do justice to
Keble's character, and has shown how hard he found the task. The paper
on Keble forms a pendant to a recent paper on Dean Milman. The two
papers show conspicuously the measure and range of Dr. Stanley's power;
what he can comprehend and appreciate in religious earnestness and
height, and what he cannot; in what shapes, as in Dean Milman, he can
thoroughly sympathise with it and grasp it, and where its phenomena, as
in Mr. Keble, simply perplex and baffle him, and carry him out of his
depth.

Sir John Coleridge knew Keble probably as long and as intimately as any
one; and on the whole, he had the most entire sympathy with his
friend's spirit, even where he disagreed with his opinions. He
thoroughly understood and valued the real and living unity of a
character which mostly revealed itself to the outer world by what
seemed jerks and discordant traits. From early youth, through manhood
to old age, he had watched and tested and loved that varied play and
harmony of soul and mind, which was sometimes tender, sometimes stern,
sometimes playful, sometimes eager; abounding with flashes of real
genius, and yet always inclining by instinctive preference to things
homely and humble; but which was always sound and unselfish and
thorough, endeavouring to subject itself to the truth and will of God.
To Sir John Coleridge all this was before him habitually as a whole; he
could take it in, not by putting piece by piece together, but because
he saw it. And besides being an old and affectionate and intelligent
friend, he was also a discriminating one. In his circumstances he was
as opposite to Keble as any one could be; he was a lawyer and man of
the world, whose busy life at Westminster had little in common with the
studies or pursuits of the divine and the country parson.

Such an informant presents a picture entirely different in kind from
the comments and criticisms of those who can judge only from Mr.
Keble's writings and religious line, or from the rare occasions in
which he took a public part. These appearances, to many who willingly
acknowledge the charm which has drawn to him the admiration and
affection of numbers externally most widely at variance with him, do
not always agree together. People delight in his poetry who hate his
theology. They cannot say too much of the tenderness, the depth, the
truth, the quick and delicate spirit of love and purity, which have
made his verses the best interpreters and soothers of modern religious
feeling; yet, in the religious system from which his poetry springs,
they find nothing but what seems to them dry, harsh, narrow, and
antiquated. He attracts and he repels; and the attraction and repulsion
are equally strong. They see one side, and he is irresistible in his
simplicity, humbleness, unworldliness, and ever considerate charity,
combined with so much keenness and freshness of thought, and such sure
and unfailing truth of feeling. They see another, and he seems to them
full of strange unreality, strained, exaggerated, morbid, bristling
with a forced yet inflexible intolerance. At one moment he seems the
very ideal of a Christian teacher, made to win the sympathy of all
hearts; the next moment a barrier rises in the shape of some unpopular
doctrine or some display of zealous severity, seeming to be a strange
contrast to all that was before, which utterly astonishes and
disappoints. Mr. Keble was very little known to the public in general,
less so even than others whose names are associated with his; and it is
evident that to the public in general he presented a strange assemblage
of incoherent and seemingly irreconcilable qualities. His mind seemed
to work and act in different directions; and the results at the end
seemed to be with wide breaks and interruptions between them. But a
book like this enables us to trace back these diverging lines to the
centre from which they spring. What seemed to be in such sharp
contradiction at the outside is seen to flow naturally from the
perfectly homogeneous and consistent character within. Many people will
of course except to the character. It is not the type likely to find
favour in an age of activity, doubt, and change. But, as it was
realised in Mr. Keble, there it is in Sir John Coleridge's pages,
perfectly real, perfectly natural, perfectly whole and uniform, with
nothing double or incongruous in it, though it unfolded itself in
various and opposite ways. And its ideal was simply that which has been
consecrated as the saintly character in the Christian Church since the
days of St. John--the deepest and most genuine love of all that was
good; the deepest and most genuine hatred of all that was believed to
be evil.

The picture which Sir John Coleridge puts before us, though deficient
in what is striking and brilliant, is a sufficiently remarkable and
uncommon one. It is the picture of a man of high cultivation and
intellect, in whom religion was not merely something flavouring and
elevating life, not merely a great element and object of spiritual
activity, but really and unaffectedly the one absorbing interest, and
the spring of every thought and purpose. Whether people like such a
character or not, and whether or not they may think the religion wrong,
or distorted and imperfect, if they would fairly understand the writer
of the _Christian Year_ they must start from this point. He was a man
who, without a particle of the religious cant of any school, without
any self-consciousness or pretension or unnatural strain, literally
passed his clays under the quick and pervading influence, for restraint
and for stimulus, of the will and presence of God. With this his whole
soul was possessed; its power over him had not to be invoked and
stirred up; it acted spontaneously and unnoticed in him; it was
dominant in all his activity; it quenched in him aims, and even, it may
be, faculties; it continually hampered the free play of his powers and
gifts, and made him often seem, to those who had not the key, awkward,
unequal, and unintelligible. But for this awful sense of truth and
reality unseen, which dwarfed to him all personal thoughts and all
present things, he might have been a more finished writer, a more
attractive preacher, a less indifferent foster-father to his own works.
But it seemed to him a shame, in the presence of all that his thoughts
habitually dwelt with, to think of the ordinary objects of authorship,
of studying anything of this world for its own sake, of perfecting
works of art, of cultivating the subtle forces and spells of language
to give attractiveness to his writings. Abruptness, inadequacy, and
obscurity of expression were light matters, and gave him little
concern, compared with the haunting fear of unreal words. This "seeking
first the kingdom of God and His righteousness," as he understood it,
was the basis of all that he was; it was really and unaffectedly his
governing principle, the root of his affections and his antipathies,
just as to other men is the passion for scientific discovery or
political life.

But within these limits, and jealously restrained by these conditions,
a strongly marked character, exuberant with power and life, and the
play of individual qualities, displayed itself. There were two
intellectual sides to his mind--one which made him a poet, quickness
and delicacy of observation and sympathetic interpretation, the
realising and anticipating power of deep feeling and penetrative
imagination; the other, at first sight, little related to poetry, a
hard-headed, ingenious, prosaic shrewdness and directness of common
sense, dealing practically with things as they are and on the whole,
very little curious about scientific questions and precision,
argumentative in a fashion modelled on Bishop Butler, and full of
logical resource, good and, often it must be owned, bad. It was a mind
which unfolded first under the plain, manly discipline of an
old-fashioned English country parsonage, where the unshowy piety and
strong morality and modest theology of the middle age of Anglicanism,
the school of Pearson, Bull, and Wilson, were supreme. And from this it
came under the new influences of bold and independent thought which
were beginning to stir at Oxford; influences which were at first
represented by such men as Davison, Copleston, and, above all, Whately;
influences which repelled Keble by what he saw of hardness,
shallowness, and arrogance, and still more of self-sufficiency and
intellectual display and conceit in the prevailing tone of speculation,
but which nevertheless powerfully affected him, and of which he showed
the traces to the last Sir John Coleridge is disappointing as to the
amount of light which he throws on the process which was going on in
Keble's mind during the fifteen years or so between his degree and the
_Christian Year_; but there is one touch which refers to this period.
Speaking in 1838 of Alexander Knox, and expressing dislike of his
position, "as on the top of a high hill, seeing which way different
schools tend," and "exercising a royal right of eclecticism over all,"
he adds:--

    I speak the more feelingly because I know I was myself inclined to
    eclecticism at one time; and if it had not been for my father and
    my brother, where I should have been now, who can say?

But he was a man who, with a very vigorous and keen intellect, capable
of making him a formidable disputant if he had been so minded, may be
said not to have cared for his intellect. He used it at need, but he
distrusted and undervalued it as an instrument and help. Goodness was
to him the one object of desire and reverence; it was really his own
measure of what he respected and valued; and where he recognised it,
and in whatever shape, grave or gay, he cared not about seeming
consistent in somehow or other paying it homage. People who knew him
remember how, in this austere judge of heresy, burdened by the
ever-pressing conviction of the "decay" of the Church and the distress
of a time of change, tenderness, playfulness, considerateness, the
restraint of a modesty which could not but judge, yet mistrusted its
fitness, marked his ordinary intercourse. Overflowing with affection to
his friends, and showing it in all kinds of unconventional and
unexpected instances, keeping to the last a kind of youthful freshness
as if he had never yet realised that he was not a boy, and shrunk from
the formality and donnishness of grown-up life, he was the most refined
and thoughtful of gentlemen, and in the midst of the fierce party
battles of his day, with all his strong feeling of the tremendous
significance of the strife, always a courteous and considerate
opponent. Strong words he used, and used deliberately. But those were
the days when the weapons of sarcasm and personal attack were freely
handled. The leaders of the High Church movement were held up to
detestation as the Oxford Malignants, and they certainly showed
themselves fully able to give their assailants as good as they brought;
yet Mr. Keble, involved in more than one trying personal controversy,
feeling as sternly and keenly as any one about public questions, and
tried by disappointment and the break up of the strongest ties, never
lost his evenness of temper, never appeared in the arena of personal
recrimination. In all the prominent part which he took, and in the
resolute and sometimes wrathful tone in which he defended what seemed
harsh measures, he may have dropped words which to opponents seemed
severe ones, but never any which even they could call a scornful one or
a sneer.

It was in keeping with all that he was--a mark of imperfection it may
be, yet part of the nobleness and love of reality in a man who felt so
deeply the weakness and ignorance of man--that he cared so little about
the appearances of consistency. Thus, bound as he was by principle to
show condemnation when he thought that a sacred cause was invaded, he
was always inclining to conciliate his wrath with his affectionateness,
and his severity with his consideration of circumstances and his own
mistrust of himself. He was, of all men holding strong opinions, one of
the most curiously and unexpectedly tolerant, wherever he could
contrive to invent an excuse for tolerance, or where long habitual
confidence was weighed against disturbing appearances. Sir John
Coleridge touches this in the following extract, which is
characteristic:--

    On questions of this kind especially [University Reform], his
    principles were uncompromising; if a measure offended against what
    he thought honest, or violated what he thought sacred, good motives
    in the framers he would not admit as palliation, nor would he
    be comforted by an opinion of mine that measures mischievous
    in their logical consequences were never in the result so
    mischievous, or beneficial measures so beneficial, as had been
    foretold. So he writes playfully to me at an earlier time:--

        "Hurrell Froude and I took into consideration your opinion
        that 'there are good men of all parties,' and agreed that it
        is a bad doctrine for these days; the time being come in
        which, according to John Miller, 'scoundrels must be called
        scoundrels'; and, moreover, we have stigmatised the said
        opinion by the name of the Coleridge Heresy. So hold it any
        longer at your peril."

    I think it fair to set down these which were, in truth, formed
    opinions, and not random sayings; but it would be most unfair if
    one concluded from them, written and spoken in the freedom of
    friendly intercourse, that there was anything sour in his spirit,
    or harsh and narrow in his practice; when you discussed any of
    these things with him, the discussion was pretty sure to end, not
    indeed with any insincere concession of what he thought right and
    true, but in consideration for individuals and depreciation of
    himself.

And the same thing comes out in the interesting letter in which the
Solicitor-General describes his last recollections of Keble:--

    There was, I am sure, no trace of failing then to be discerned in
    his apprehension, or judgment, or discourse. He was an old man who
    had been very ill, who was still physically weak, and who needed
    care; but he was the same Mr. Keble I had always known, and whom,
    for aught that appeared, I might hope still to know for many years
    to come. Little bits of his tenderness, flashes of his fun,
    glimpses of his austerer side, I seem to recall, but I cannot put
    them upon paper.... Once I remember walking with him just the same
    short walk, from his house to Sir William's, and our conversation
    fell upon Charles I., with regard to whose truth and honour I had
    used some expressions in a review, which had, as I heard,
    displeased him. I referred to this, and he said it was true. I
    replied that I was very sorry to displease him by anything I said
    or thought; but that if the Naseby letters were genuine, I could
    not think that what I said was at all too strong, and that a man
    could but do his best to form an honest opinion upon historical
    evidence, and, if he had to speak, to express that opinion. On
    this he said, with a tenderness and humility not only most
    touching, but to me most embarrassing, that "It might be so; what
    was he to judge of other men; he was old, and things were now
    looked at very differently; that he knew he had many things to
    unlearn and learn afresh; and that I must not mind what he had
    said, for that in truth belief in the heroes of his youth had
    become part of him." I am afraid these are my words, and not his;
    and I cannot give his way of speaking, which to any one with a
    heart, I think, would have been as overcoming as it was to me.

This same carelessness about appearances seems to us to be shown in
Keble's theological position in his later years. A more logical, or a
more plausible, but a less thoroughly real man might easily have
drifted into Romanism. There was much in the circumstances round him,
in the admissions which he had made, to lead that way; and his
chivalrous readiness to take the beaten or unpopular side would help
the tendency. But he was a man who gave great weight to his instinctive
perception of what was right and wrong; and he was also a man who, when
he felt sure of his duty, did not care a straw about what the world
thought of appearances, or required as a satisfaction of seeming
consistency. In him was eminently illustrated the characteristic
strength and weakness of English religion, which naturally comes out in
that form of it which is called Anglicanism; that poor Anglicanism, the
butt and laughing-stock of all the clever and high-flying converts to
Rome, of all the clever and high-flying Liberals, and of all those poor
copyists of the first, far from clever, though very high-flying, who
now give themselves out as exclusive heirs of the great name of
Catholic; sneered at on all sides as narrow, meagre, shattered, barren;
which certainly does not always go to the bottom of questions, and is
too much given to "hunting-up" passages for _catenas_ of precedents and
authorities; but which yet has a strange, obstinate, tenacious moral
force in it; which, without being successful in formulating theories or
in solving fallacies, can pierce through pretences and shams; and which
in England seems the only shape in which intense religious faith can
unfold itself and connect itself with morality and duty, without
seeming to wear a peculiar dress of its own, and putting a barrier of
self-chosen watchwords and singularities between itself and the rest of
the nation.

It seems to us a great advantage to truth to have a character thus
exhibited in its unstudied and living completeness, and exhibited
directly, as the impression from life was produced on those before
whose eyes it drew itself out day by day in word and act, as the
occasion presented itself. There is, no doubt, a more vivid and
effective way; one in which the Dean of Westminster is a great master,
though it is not the method which he followed in what is probably his
most perfect work, the _Life of Dr. Arnold_--the method of singling out
points, and placing them, if possible, under a concentrated light, and
in strong contrast and relief. Thus in Keble's case it is easy, and
doubtless to many observers natural and tempting, to put side by side,
with a strange mixture of perplexity and repulsion, _The Christian
Year_, and the treatise _On Eucharistical Adoration_; to compare even
in Keble's poetry, his tone on nature and human life, on the ways of
children and the thoughts of death, with that on religious error and
ecclesiastical divergences from the Anglican type; and to dwell on the
contrast between Keble bearing his great gifts with such sweetness and
modesty, and touching with such tenderness and depth the most delicate
and the purest of human feelings, and Keble as the editor of Fronde's
_Remains_, forward against Dr. Hampden, breaking off a friendship of
years with Dr. Arnold, stiff against Liberal change and indulgent to
ancient folly and error, the eulogist of patristic mysticism and Bishop
Wilson's "discipline," and busy in the ecclesiastical agitations and
legal wranglings of our later days, about Jerusalem Bishoprics and
Courts of Final Appeal and ritual details, about Gorham judgments,
_Essays and Reviews_ prosecutions, and Colenso scandals. The objection
to this method of contrast is that it does not give the whole truth. It
does not take notice that, in appreciating a man like Keble, the thing
to start from is that his ideal and model and rule of character was
neither more nor less than the old Christian one. It was simply what
was accepted as right and obvious and indisputable, not by Churchmen
only, but by all earnest believers up to our own days. Given certain
conditions of Christian faith and duty which he took for granted as
much as the ordinary laws of morality, then the man's own individual
gifts or temper or leanings displayed themselves. But when people talk
of Keble being narrow and rigid and harsh and intolerant, they ought
first to recollect that he had been brought up with the ideas common to
all whom he ever heard of or knew as religious people. All earnest
religious conviction must seem narrow to those who do not share it. It
was nothing individual or peculiar, either to him or his friends, to
have strong notions about defending what they believed that they had
received as the truth; and they were people who knew what they were
about, too, and did not take things up at random. In this he was not
different from Hooker, or Jeremy Taylor, or Bishop Butler, or Baxter,
or Wesley, or Dr. Chalmers; it may be added, that he was not different
from Dr. Arnold or Archbishop Whately. It must not be forgotten that
till of late years there was always supposed, rightly or wrongly, to be
such a thing as false doctrine, and that intolerance of it, within the
limits of common justice, was always held as much part of the Christian
character as devotion and charity. Men differed widely as to what was
false doctrine, but they did not differ much as to there being such a
thing, and as to what was to be thought of it. Keble, like other people
of his time, took up his system, and really, considering that the ideal
which he honestly and earnestly aimed at was the complete system of the
Catholic Church, it is an abuse of words to call it, whatever else it
may be called, a narrow system. There may be a wider system still, in
the future; but it is at least premature to say that a man is narrow
because he accepts in good faith the great traditional ideas and
doctrines of the Christian Church; for of everything that can yet be
called a religious system, in the sense commonly understood, as an
embodiment of definite historical revelation, it is not easy to
conceive a less narrow one. And, accepting it as the truth, it was
dearer to him than life. That he was sensitively alive to whatever
threatened or opposed it, and was ready to start up like a soldier,
ready to do battle against any odds and to risk any unpopularity or
misconstruction, was only the sure and natural result of that deep love
and loyalty and thorough soundness of heart with which he loved his
friends, but what he believed to be truth and God's will better than
his friends. But it is idle and shallow to confuse the real narrowness
which springs from a harsh temper or a cramped and self-sufficient
intellect, and which is quite compatible with the widest theoretical
latitude, and the inevitable appearance of narrowness and severity
which must always be one side which a man of strong convictions and
earnest purpose turns to those whose strong convictions and earnest
purpose are opposite to his.

Mr. Keble, saintly as was his character, if ever there was such a
character, belonged, as we all do, to his day and generation. The
aspect of things and the thoughts of men change; enlarging, we are
always apt to think, but perhaps really also contracting in some
directions where they once were larger. In Mr. Keble, the service which
he rendered to his time consisted, not merely, as it is sometimes
thought, in soothing and refining it, but in bracing it. He was the
preacher and example of manly hardness, simplicity, purpose in the
religious character. It may be that his hatred of evil--of hollowness,
impurity, self-will, conceit, ostentation--was greater than was always
his perception of various and mingled good, or his comprehension of
those middle things and states which are so much before us now. But the
service cannot be overrated, to all parties, of the protest which his
life and all his words were against dangers which were threatening all
parties, and not least the Liberal party--the danger of shallowness and
superficial flippancy; the danger of showy sentiment and insincerity,
of worldly indifference to high duties and calls. With the one great
exception of Arnold--Keble's once sympathetic friend, though afterwards
parted from him--the religious Liberals of our time have little reason
to look back with satisfaction to the leaders, able and vigorous as
some of them were, who represented their cause then. They owe to Keble,
as much as do those who are more identified with his theology, the
inestimable service of having interpreted religion by a genuine life,
corresponding in its thoroughness and unsparing, unpretending
devotedness, as well as in its subtle vividness of feeling, to the
great object which religion professes to contemplate.



XVIII

MAURICE'S THEOLOGICAL ESSAYS[21]


  [21]
  _Theological Essays_. By F.D. Maurice. _Guardian_, 7th September 1853.

The purpose of this volume of essays is to consider the views
entertained by Unitarians of what are looked upon by Christians
generally as fundamental truths; to examine what force there is in
Unitarian objections, and what mistakes are involved in the popular
notions and representations of those fundamental truths; and so,
without entering into controversy, for which Mr. Maurice declares
himself entirely indisposed, and in the utility of which he entirely
disbelieves, to open the way for a deeper and truer, and more serious
review, by all parties, of either the differences or the misunderstandings
which keep them asunder. It is a work, the writer considers, as
important as any which he has undertaken: "No labour I have been
engaged in has occupied me so much, or interested me more deeply;"
and with his estimate of his subject we are not disposed to disagree.

We always rise from the perusal of one of Mr. Maurice's books with the
feeling that he has shown us one great excellence, and taught us one
great lesson. He has shown us an example of serious love of truth, and
an earnest sense of its importance, and of his own responsibility in
speaking of it. Most readers, whatever else they may think, must have
their feeling of the wide and living interest of a theological or moral
subject quickened by Mr. Maurice's thoughts on it. This is the
excellence. The lesson is this--to look into the meaning of our
familiar words, and to try to use them with a real meaning. Not that
Mr. Maurice always shows us how; but it is difficult for conscience to
escape being continually reminded of the duty. And it is in these two
things that the value of Mr. Maurice's writings mainly consists. The
enforcing of them has been, to our mind, his chief "mission," and his
most valuable contribution to the needs of his generation.

In this volume they are exhibited, as in his former ones; and in this
he shows also, as he has shown before, his earnest desire to find a way
whereby, without compromising truth or surrendering sacred convictions
of the heart, serious men of very different sides might be glad to find
themselves in some points mistaken, in order that they might find
themselves at one. This philosophy, not of comprehension but of
conciliation, the craving after which has awakened in the Church,
whenever mental energy has been quickened, the philosophy in which
Clement of Alexandria and Origin, and, we may add, St. Augustine, made
many earnest essays, is certainly no unworthy aim for the theologian of
our days. He would, indeed, deserve largely of the Church who should
show us a solid and safe way to it.

But while we are far from denouncing or suspecting the wish or the
design, we are bound to watch jealously and criticise narrowly the
execution. For we all know what such plans have come to before now. And
it is for the interest of all serious and earnest people on all sides,
that there should be no needless and additional confusion introduced
into theology--such confusion as is but too likely to follow, when a
design of conciliation, with the aim of which so many, for good reasons
or bad ones, are sure to sympathise, is carried out by hands that are
not equal to it. With the fullest sense of the serious truthfulness of
those who differ from us, of the real force of many of their objections
and criticisms on our proceedings, our friends, and our ideas, it is
far better to hold our peace, than from impatience at what we feel to
be the vulnerable point of our own side, to rush into explanations
before we are sure of our power adequately to explain.

And to this charge it seems to us that Mr. Maurice is open. There is
sense and manliness in his disclaimer of proselytism; and there is a
meaning in which we can agree with his account of truth. "If I could
persuade all Dissenters," he says, "to become members of my Church
to-morrow, I should be very sorry to do it. I believe the chances are
they might leave it the next day. I do not wish to make them think as I
think. But I want that they and I should be what we pretend to be, and
then I doubt not we should find that there is a common ground for us
all far beneath our thinkings. For truth I hold not to be that which
every man troweth, but to be that which lies at the bottom of all men's
trowings, that in which those trowings have their only meeting-point."
He would make as clear as can be that deep substructure, and leave the
sight of it to work its natural effect on the honest heart. A noble
aim; but surely requiring, if anything can, the clear eye, the steady
hand, the heart as calm as earnest. Surely a work in which the greatest
exactness and precision, as well as largeness of thought, would not be
too much. For if we but take away the "trowings" without coming down to
the central foundation, or lose ourselves, and mistake a new "trowing"
of our own for it, it is hardly a sufficient degree of blame to say
that we have done no good.

And in these qualities of exactness and precision it does seem to us
that Mr. Maurice is, for his purpose, fatally deficient. His criticisms
are often acute, his thrusts on each side often very home ones, and
but too full of truth; his suggestions often full of thought and
instruction; his balancings and contrasts of errors and truths, if
sometimes too artificial, yet generally striking. But when we come to
seek for the reconciling truth, which one side has overlaid and
distorted, and the other ignorantly shrunk back from, but which, when
placed in its real light and fairly seen, is to attract the love and
homage of both, we seem--not to grasp a shadow--Mr. Maurice is too
earnest and real a believer for that--but to be very much where we
were, except that a cloud of words surrounds us. His positive
statements seem like a running protest against being obliged to commit
himself and come to the point; like a continual assertion of the
hopelessness and uselessness of a definite form of speaking about the
matter in hand. Take, for instance, the following short statement:--

    "My object," he says, speaking of the words which he has taken as
    the subject of his essays, "has been to examine the language with
    which we are most familiar, and which has been open to most
    objections, especially from Unitarians. Respecting the Conception
    I have been purposely silent; not because I have any doubt about
    that article, or am indifferent to it, but because I believe the
    word '_miraculous_,' which we _ordinarily connect with it, suggests
    an untrue meaning; because I think the truth is conveyed to us
    most safely in the simple language of the Evangelists_; and because
    that language taken in connection with the rest of their story,
    offers itself, I suspect, to a majority of those who have taken
    in the idea of an Incarnation, as the _only natural and rational_
    account of the method by which the eternal Son of God could have
    taken human flesh."

Now, would not Mr. Maurice have done better if he had enounced the
definite meaning, or shade of meaning, which he considers short of, or
different from, our _ordinary_ meaning of _miraculous_, as applied to
this subject, and yet the same as that suggested by the Gospel account?
We have no doubt what Mr. Maurice does believe on this sacred subject.
But we are puzzled by what he means to disavow, as an "_untrue
meaning_" of the word _miraculous_, as applied to what he believes.
And  the Unitarians whom he addresses must, we think, be puzzled too.

We have quoted this passage because it is a short one, and therefore a
convenient one for a short notice like this. But the same tormenting
indistinctness pervades the attempts generally to get a meaning or a
position, which shall be substantially and in its living force the same
as the popular and orthodox article, yet convict it of confusion or
formalism; and which shall give to the Unitarian what he aims at by his
negation of the popular article, without leaving him any longer a
reason for denying it. The essay on Inspiration is an instance of this.
Mr. Maurice says very truly, that it is necessary to face the fact that
important questions are asked on the subject, very widely, and by
serious people; that popular notions are loose and vague about it; that
it is a dangerous thing to take refuge in a hard theory, if it is an
inconsistent and inadequate one; that if doubts do grow up, they are
hardly to be driven away by assertions. He accepts the challenge to
state his own view of Inspiration, and devotes many pages to doing so.
In these page's are many true and striking things. So far as we
understand, there is not a statement that we should contradict. But we
have searched in vain for a passage which might give, in Mr. Maurice's
words, a distinct answer to the question of friend or opponent, What do
you mean by the "Inspiration of the Bible?" Mr. Maurice tells us a most
important truth--that that same Great Person by whose "holy
inspiration" all true Christians still hope to be taught, inspired the
prophets. He protests against making it necessary to say that there is
a _generic_ difference between one kind of Inspiration and the other,
or "setting up the Bible as a book which encloses all that may be
lawfully called Inspiration." He looks on the Bible as a link--a great
one, yet a link, joining on to what is before and what comes after--in
God's method of teaching man His truth. He cares little about phrases
like "verbal inspiration" and "plenary inspiration"--"forms of speech
which are pretty toys for those that have leisure to play with them;
and if they are not made so hard as to do mischief, the use of them
should not be checked. But they do not belong to business." He bids us,
instead, give men "the Book of Life," and "have courage to tell them
that there is a Spirit with them who will guide them into all truth."
Great and salutary lessons. But we must say that they have been long in
the world, and, it must be said, are as liable to be misunderstood as
any other "popular" notions on the subject. If there is nothing more to
say on the subject--if it is one where, though we see and are sure of a
truth, yet we must confess it to be behind a veil, as yet indistinct
and not to be grasped, let us manfully say so, and wait till God reveal
even this unto us. But it is not a wise or a right course to raise
expectations of being able to say something, not perhaps new, but
satisfactory, when the questions which are really being asked, which
are the professed occasion of the answer, remain, in their Intellectual
difficulty, entirely unresolved. Mr. Maurice is no trifler; when he
throws hard words about,--when at the close of this essay he paints to
himself the disappointment of some "Unitarian listener, who had hoped
that Mr. Maurice was going to join him in cursing his enemies, and
found that he had blessed them these three times,"--he ought to
consider whether the result has not been, and very naturally, to leave
both parties more convinced than before of the hollowness of all
professions to enter into, and give weight to, the difficulties and the
claims of opposite sides.

Mr. Maurice has not done justice, as it seems to us, in this case, to
the difficulty of the Unitarian. In other cases he makes free with the
common belief of Christendom, and claims sacrifices which are as
needless as they are unwarrantable. If there is a belief rooted in the
minds of Christians, it is that of a future judgment. If there is an
expectation which Scripture and the Creed sanction in the plainest
words, it is that this present world is to have an end, and that then,
a time now future, Christ will judge quick and dead. Say as much as can
be said of the difficulty of conceiving such a thing, it really amounts
to no more than the difficulty of conceiving what will happen, and how
we shall be dealt with, when this familiar world passes away. And this
belief in a "_final_ judgment, _unlike any other that has ever been in
the world_," Mr. Maurice would have us regard as a misinterpretation of
Bible and Creed--a "dream" which St. Paul would never "allow us" to
entertain, but would "compel" us instead "to look upon everyone of what
we rightly call 'God's judgments' as _essentially resembling it in kind
and principle_." "Our eagerness to deny this," he continues, "to make
out an altogether peculiar and unprecedented judgment at the end of the
world, has obliged us first _to practise the most violent outrages upon
the language of Scripture_, insisting that words cannot 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."



XIX

FREDERICK DENISON MAURICE[22]


  [22]
  _Saturday Review_, 6th April 1872.

This Easter week we have lost a man about whom opinions and feelings
were much divided, who was by many of the best and most thoughtful
among us looked on as the noblest and greatest of recent English
teachers, and who certainly had that rare gift of inspiring enthusiasm
and trust among honest and powerful minds in search of guidance, which
belongs to none but to men of a very high order. Professor Maurice has
ended a life of the severest and most unceasing toil, still working to
the utmost that failing bodily strength allowed--still to the last in
harness. The general public, though his name is familiar to them,
probably little measure the deep and passionate affection with which he
was regarded by the circle of his friends and by those whose thoughts
and purposes he had moulded; or the feeling which his loss causes in
them of a blank, great and not to be filled up, not only personally for
themselves, but in the agencies which are working most hopefully in
English society. But even those who knew him least, and only from the
outside, and whose points of view least coincided with his, must feel
that there has been, now that we look back on his course, something
singularly touching and even pathetic in the combination shown in all
that he did, of high courage and spirit, and of unwearied faith and
vigour, with the deepest humility and with the sincerest
disinterestedness and abnegation, which never allowed him to seek
anything great for himself, and, in fact, distinguished and honoured as
he was, never found it. For the sake of his generation we may regret
that he did not receive the public recognition and honour which were
assuredly his due; but in truth his was one of those careers which, for
their own completeness and consistency, gain rather than lose by
escaping the distractions and false lights of what is called
preferment.

The two features which strike us at the moment as characteristic of Mr.
Maurice as a writer and teacher, besides the vast range both of his
reading and thought, and the singularly personal tone and language of
all that he wrote, are, first, the combination in him of the most
profound and intense religiousness with the most boundless claim and
exercise of intellectual liberty; and next, the value which he set,
exemplifying his estimate in his own long and laborious course, on
processes and efforts, as compared with conclusions and definite
results, in that pursuit of truth which was to him the most sacred of
duties. There is no want of earnest and fervent religion among us,
intelligent, well-informed, deliberate, as well as of religion, to
which these terms can hardly be applied. And there is also no want of
the boldest and most daring freedom of investigation and judgment. But
what Mr. Maurice seemed to see himself, and what he endeavoured to
impress on others, was that religion and liberty are no natural
enemies, but that the deepest and most absorbing forms of historical
and traditional religion draw strength and seriousness of meaning, and
binding obligation, from an alliance, frank and unconditional, with
what seem to many the risks, the perilous risks and chances, of
freedom.

It was a position open to obvious and formidable criticism; but against
this criticism is to be set the fact, that in a long and energetic
life, in which amidst great trials and changes there was a singular
uniformity and consistency of character maintained, he did unite the
two--the most devout Christianity with the most fearless and
unshrinking boldness in facing the latest announcements and
possibilities of modern thought. That he always satisfactorily
explained his point of view to others is more than can be said; but he
certainly satisfied numbers of keen and anxious thinkers, who were
discontented and disheartened both by religion as it is presented by
our great schools and parties, and by science as its principles and
consequences are expounded by the leading philosophical authorities of
the day. The other point to which we have adverted partly explains the
influence which he had with such minds. He had no system to formulate
or to teach. He was singularly ready to accept, as adequate expressions
of those truths in whose existence he so persistently believed, the old
consecrated forms in which simpler times had attempted to express them.
He believed that these truths are wider and vaster than the human mind
which is to be made wiser and better by them. And his aim was to reach
up to an ever more exact, and real, and harmonious hold of these
truths, which in their essential greatness he felt to be above him; to
reach to it in life as much as in thought. And so to the end he was
ever striving, not so much to find new truths as to find the heart and
core of old ones, the truth of the truth, the inner life and
significance of the letter, of which he was always loth to refuse the
traditional form. In these efforts at unfolding and harmonising there
was considerable uniformity; no one could mistake Mr. Maurice's manner
of presenting the meaning and bearing of an article of the Creed for
the manner of any one else; but the result of this way of working, in
the effect of the things which he said, and in his relations to
different bodies of opinion and thought both in the Church and in
society, was to give the appearance of great and important changes in
his teaching and his general point of view, as life went on. This
governing thought of his, of the immeasurably transcendent compass and
height of all truths compared with the human mind and spirit which was
to bow to them and to gain life and elevation by accepting them,
explains the curious and at present almost unique combination in him,
of deep reverence for the old language of dogmatic theology, and an
energetic maintenance of its fitness and value, with dissatisfaction,
equally deep and impartially universal, at the interpretations put on
this dogmatic language by modern theological schools, and at the modes
in which its meaning is applied by them both in directing thought and
influencing practice. This habit of distinguishing sharply and
peremptorily between dogmatic language and the popular reading of it at
any given time is conspicuous in his earliest as in his latest handling
of these subjects; in the pamphlet of 1835, _Subscription no Bondage_,
explaining and defending the old practice at Oxford; and in the papers
and letters, which have appeared from him in periodicals, on the
Athanasian Creed, and which are, we suppose, almost his last writings.

The world at large thought Mr. Maurice obscure and misty, and was, as
was natural, impatient of such faults. The charge was, no doubt, more
than partially true; and nothing but such genuine strength and
comprehensive power as his could have prevented it from being a fatal
one to his weight and authority. But it is not uninstructive to
remember what was very much at the root of it. It had its origin, not
altogether, but certainly in a great degree, in two of his moral
characteristics. One was his stubborn, conscientious determination, at
any cost of awkwardness, or apparent inconsistency, or imperfection of
statement, to say out what he had to say, neither more nor less, just
as he thought it, and just as he felt it, with the most fastidious care
for truthful accuracy of meaning. He never would suffer what he
considered either the connection or the balance and adjustment of
varied and complementary truths to be sacrificed to force or point of
expression; and he had to choose sometimes, as all people have, between
a blurred, clumsy, and ineffective picture and a consciously incomplete
and untrue one. His choice never wavered; and as the artist's aim was
high, and his skill not always equally at his command, he preferred the
imperfection which left him the consciousness of honesty. The other
cause which threw a degree of haze round his writings was the personal
shape into which he was so fond of throwing his views. He shrunk from
their enunciation as arguments and conclusions which claimed on their
own account and by their own title the deference of all who read them;
and he submitted them as what he himself had found and had been granted
to see--the lessons and convictions of his own experience. Sympathy is,
no doubt, a great bond among all men; but, after all, men's experience
and their points of view are not all alike, and when we are asked to
see with another's eyes, it is not always easy. Mr. Maurice's desire to
give the simplest and most real form to his thoughts as they arose in
his own mind contributed more often than he supposed to prevent others
from entering into his meaning. He asked them to put themselves in his
place. He did not sufficiently put himself in theirs.

But he has taught us great lessons, of the sacredness, the largeness,
and, it may be added, the difficulty of truth; lessons of sympathy with
one another, of true humility and self-conquest in the busy and
unceasing activity of the intellectual faculties. He has left no school
and no system, but he has left a spirit and an example. We speak of him
here only as those who knew him as all the world knew him; but those
who were his friends are never tired of speaking of his grand
simplicity of character, of his tenderness and delicacy, of the
irresistible spell of lovableness which won all within its reach. They
remember how he spoke, and how he read; the tones of a voice of
singularly piercing clearness, which was itself a power of
interpretation, which revealed his own soul and went straight to the
hearts of hearers. He has taken his full share in the controversies of
our days, and there must be many opinions both about the line which he
took, and even sometimes about the temper in which he carried on
debate. But it is nothing but the plainest justice to say that he was a
philosopher, a theologian, and, we may add, a prophet, of whom, for his
great gifts, and, still more, for his noble and pure use of them, the
modern English Church may well be proud.



XX

SIR RICHARD CHURCH[23]


  [23]
  _Guardian_, 26th March 1873.

General Sir Richard Church died last week at Athens. Many English
travellers in the East find their way to Athens; most of them must have
heard his name repeated there as the name of one closely associated
with the later fortunes of the Greek nation, and linking the present
with times now distant; some of them may have seen him, and may
remember the slight wiry form which seemed to bear years so lightly,
the keen eye and grisled moustache and soldierly bearing, and perhaps
the antique and ceremonious courtesy, stately yet cordial, recalling a
type of manners long past, with which he welcomed those who had a claim
on his attentions or friendly offices. Five and forty years ago his
name was much in men's mouths. He was prominent in a band of
distinguished men, who represented a new enthusiasm in Europe. Less by
what they were able to do than by their character and their unreserved
self-devotion and sacrifice, they profoundly affected public opinion,
and disarmed the jealousy of absolutist courts and governments in
favour of a national movement, which, whether disappointment may have
followed its success, was one of the most just and salutary of
revolutions--the deliverance of a Christian nation from the hopeless
tyranny of the Turks.

He was one of the few remaining survivors of the generation which had
taken part in the great French war and in the great changes resulting
from it--changes which have in time given way to vaster alterations,
and been eclipsed by them. He began his military life as a boy-ensign
in one of the regiments forming part of the expedition which, under Sir
Ralph Abercromby, drove the French out of Egypt in 1801; and on the
shores of the Mediterranean, where his career began, it was for the
most part continued and finished. His genius led him to the more
irregular and romantic forms of military service; he had the gift of
personal influence, and the power of fascinating and attaching to
himself, with extraordinary loyalty, the people of the South. His
adventurous temper, his sympathetic nature, his chivalrous courtesy,
his thorough trustworthiness and sincerity, his generosity, his high
spirit of nobleness and honour, won for him, from Italians and Greeks,
not only that deep respect which was no unusual tribute from them to
English honesty and strength and power of command, but that love, and
that affectionate and almost tender veneration, for which strong and
resolute Englishmen have not always cared from races of whose
characteristic faults they were impatient.

His early promise in the regular service was brilliant; as a young
staff-officer, and by a staff-officer's qualities of sagacity,
activity, and decision, he did distinguished service at Maida; and had
he followed the movement which made Spain the great battle-ground for
English soldiers, he had every prospect of earning a high place among
those who fought under Wellington. But he clung to the Mediterranean.
He was employed in raising and organising those foreign auxiliary corps
which it was thought were necessary to eke out the comparatively scanty
numbers of the English armies, and to keep up threatening
demonstrations on the outskirts of the French Empire. It was in this
service that his connection with the Greek people was first formed, and
his deep and increasing interest in its welfare created. He was
commissioned to form first one, and then a second, regiment of Greek
irregulars; and from the Ionian Islands, from the mainland of Albania,
from the Morea, chiefs and bands, accustomed to the mountain warfare,
half patriotic, half predatory, carried on by the more energetic Greek
highlanders against the Turks, flocked to the English standards. The
operations in which they were engaged were desultory, and of no great
account in the general result of the gigantic contest; but they made
Colonel Church's name familiar to the Greek population, who were
hoping, amid the general confusion, for an escape from the tyranny of
the Turks. But his connection with Greece was for some time delayed.
His peculiar qualifications pointed him out as a fit man to be a medium
of communication between the English Government and the foreign armies
which were operating on the outside of the circle within which the
decisive struggle was carried on against Napoleon; and he was the
English Military Commissioner attached to the Austrian armies in Italy
in 1814 and 1815.

At the Peace, his eagerness for daring and adventurous enterprise was
tempted by great offers from the Neapolitan Government. The war had
left brigandage, allied to a fierce spirit of revolutionary
freemasonry, all-powerful in the south of Italy; and a stern and
resolute, yet perfectly honest and just hand, was needed to put it
down. He accepted the commission; he was reckless of conspiracy and
threats of assassination; he was known to be no sanguinary and
merciless lover of severity, but he was known also to be fearless and
inexorable against crime; and, not without some terrible examples, yet
with complete success, he delivered the south of Italy from the
scourge. But his thoughts had always been turned towards Greece; at
last the call came, and he threw himself with all his hopes and all his
fortunes into a struggle which more than any other that history can
show engaged at the time the interest of Europe. His first efforts
resulted in a disastrous defeat against overwhelming odds, for which,
as is natural, he has been severely criticised; his critics have shown
less quickness in perceiving the qualities which he displayed after
it--his unshaken, silent fortitude, the power with which he kept
together and saved the wrecks of his shattered and disheartened
volunteer army, the confidence in himself with which he inspired them,
the skill with which he extricated them from their dangers in the face
of a strong and formidable enemy, the humanity which he strove so
earnestly by word and example to infuse into the barbarous warfare
customary between Greeks and Turks, the tenacity with which he clung to
the fastnesses of Western Greece, obtaining by his perseverance from
the diplomacy of Europe a more favourable line of boundary for the new
nation which it at length recognised. To this cause he gave up
everything; personal risks cannot be counted; but he threw away all
prospects in England; he made no bargains; he sacrificed freely to the
necessities of the struggle any pecuniary resource that he could
command, neither requiring nor receiving any repayment. He threw in his
lot with the people for whom he had surrendered everything, in order to
take part in their deliverance. Since his arrival in Greece in 1827 he
has never turned his face westwards. He took the part which is perhaps
the only becoming and justifiable one for the citizen of one State who
permits himself to take arms, even in the cause of independence, for
another; having fought for the Greeks, he lived with them, and shared,
for good and for evil, their fortunes.

For more than forty years he has resided at Athens under the shadow of
the great rock of the Acropolis. Distinguished by all the honours the
Greek nation could bestow, military or political, he has lived in
modest retirement, only on great emergencies taking any prominent part
in the political questions of Greece, but always throwing his influence
on the side of right and honesty. The course of things in Greece was
not always what an educated Englishman could wish it to be. But
whatever his judgment, or, on occasion, his action might be, there
never could be a question, with his friends any more than with his
opponents--enemies he could scarcely be said to have--as to the
straightforwardness, the pure motives, the unsullied honour of anything
that he did or anything that he advised. The Greeks saw among them one
deeply sympathising with all that they cared for, commanding, if he had
pleased to work for it, considerable influence out of Greece, the
intimate friend of a Minister like Sir Edmund Lyons, yet keeping free
from the temptation to make that use of influence which seems so
natural to politicians in a place like Athens; thinking much of Greece
and of the interests of his friends there, but thinking as much of
truth and justice and conscience; hating intrigue and trick, and
shaming by his indignant rebuke any proposal of underhand courses that
might be risked in his presence.

The course of things, the change of ideas and of men, threw him more
and more out of any forward and prominent place in the affairs of
Greece. But his presence in Athens was felt everywhere. There was a man
who had given up everything for Greece and sought nothing in return.
His blameless unselfishness, his noble elevation of character, were a
warning and a rebuke to the faults which have done so much mischief to
the progress of the nation; and yet every Greek in Athens knew that no
one among them was more jealous of the honour of the nation or more
anxious for its good. To a new political society, freshly exposed to
the temptations of party struggles for power, no greater service can be
rendered than a public life absolutely clear from any suspicion of
self-seeking, governed uninterruptedly and long by public spirit,
public ends, and a strong sense of duty. Such a service General Church
has rendered to his adopted country. During his residence among them
for nearly half a century they have become familiar, not in word, but
in living reality, with some of the best things which the West has to
impart to the East. They have had among them an example of English
principle, English truth, English high-souled disinterestedness, and
that noble English faith which, in a great cause, would rather hope in
vain than not hope at all. They have learned to venerate all this, and,
some of them, to love it.



XXI

DEATH OF BISHOP WILBERFORCE[24]


  [24]
  _Guardian_, 23rd July 1873.

The beautiful summer weather which came on us at the beginning of this
week gives by contrast a strange and terrible point to the calamity,
the announcement of which sent such a shock through the whole country
on Monday last. Summer days in all their brilliance seemed come at
last, after a long waiting which made them the more delightful. But as
people came down to breakfast on that morning, or as they gathered at
railway stations on their way to business, the almost incredible
tidings met them that the Bishop of Winchester was dead; that he had
been killed by a fall from his horse. In a moment, by the most trivial
of accidents, one of the foremost and most stirring men of our
generation had passed away from the scene in which his part was so
large a one. With everything calm and peaceful round him, in the midst
of the keen but tranquil enjoyment of a summer evening ride with a
friend through some of the most charming scenery in England, looking
forward to meeting another friend, and to the pleasure which a quiet
Sunday brings to hard-worked men in fine weather, and a pleasant
country house, the blow fell. The moment before, as Lord Granville
remarks, he had given expression to the fulness of his enjoyment. He
was rejoicing in the fine weather, he was keenly noticing the beauty of
the scenery at every point of the way; with his characteristic love of
trees he was noticing the different kinds and the soils which suited
them; especially he was greatly pleased with his horse. There comes a
slight dip in the smooth turf; the horse stumbles and recovers himself
unhurt; but in that short interval of time all has vanished, all things
earthly, from that quick eye and that sensitive and sympathetic mind.
It is indeed tragic. He is said to have thought with distress of a
lingering end. He was spared it. He died as a soldier dies.

A shock like this brings with it also a shock of new knowledge and
appreciation of things. We are made to feel with a new force what it is
that we have lost, and to understand more exactly what is the
proportion of what we have lost to what we still retain. To friends and
opponents the Bishop of Winchester could not but be, under any
circumstances, a person of the greatest importance. But few of us,
probably, measured fully and accurately the place which he filled among
us. We are better aware of it now when he has been taken away from us.
Living among us, and acting before us from day to day, the object of
each day's observation and criticism, under each day's varying
circumstances and feelings, within our reach always if we wanted to see
him or to hear him, he was presented to our thoughts in that partial
disclosure, and that everyday homeliness, which as often disguise the
true and complete significance of a character, as they give substance
and reality to our conceptions of it. As the man's course moves on, we
are apt to lose in our successive judgments of the separate steps of
it--it may be stops of great immediate interest--our sense of its
connection and tendency, of the true measure of it as a whole, of the
degree in which character is growing and rising, or, on the other hand,
falling or standing still. The Bishop of Winchester had many
admirers--many who deeply loved and trusted him--many who, in the face
of a good deal of suspicion and hostile comment, stoutly insisted on
the high estimate which they had formed of him. But even among them,
and certainly in the more indifferent public, there were few who had
rightly made it clear to their own minds what he had really grown to be
both in the Church and the country.

For it is obvious, at the first glance now that he is gone, that there
is no one who can fill the place which he filled. It seems to us beyond
dispute that he has been the greatest Bishop the English Church has
seen for a century and a half. We do not say the greatest man, but the
greatest Bishop; the one among the leaders of the English Church who
most adequately understood the relations of his office, not only to the
Church, but to his times and his country, and who most adequately
fulfilled his own conception of them. We are very far from saying this
because of his exuberant outfit of powers and gifts; because of his
versatility, his sympathetic nature, his eager interest in all that
interested his fellows, his inexhaustible and ready resources of
thought and speech, of strong and practical good sense, of brilliant or
persuasive or pathetic eloquence. In all this he had equals and rivals,
though perhaps he had not many in the completeness and balance of his
powers. Nor do we say anything of those gifts, partly of the intellect,
but also of the soul and temper and character, by which he was able at
once to charm without tiring the most refined and fastidious society,
to draw to him the hearts of hard-working and anxious clergymen, and to
enchain the attention of the dullest and most ignorant of rustic
congregations. All these are, as it seems to us, the subordinate, and
not the most interesting, parts of what he was; they were on the
surface and attracted notice, and the parts were often mistaken for the
whole. Nor do we forget what often offended even equitable judges,
disliking all appearance of management and mere adroitness--or what was
often objected against his proceedings by opponents at least as
unscrupulous as they wished him to be thought. We are far from thinking
that his long career was free from either mistakes or faults; it is not
likely that a course steered amid such formidable and perplexing
difficulties, and steered with such boldness and such little attempt to
evade them, should not offer repeated occasions not only for
ill-natured, but for grave and serious objections.

But looking over that long course of his Episcopate, from 1845 to the
present year, we see in him, in an eminent and unique degree, two
things. He had a distinct and statesmanlike idea of Church policy; and
he had a new idea of the functions of a Bishop, and of what a Bishop
might do and ought to do. And these two ideas he steadily kept in view
and acted upon with increasing clearness in his purpose and unflagging
energy in action. He grasped in all its nobleness and fulness and
height the conception of the Church as a great religious society of
Divine origin, with many sides and functions, with diversified gifts
and ever new relations to altering times, but essentially, and above
all things, a religious society. To serve that society, to call forth
in it the consciousness of its calling and its responsibilities, to
strengthen and put new life into its organisation, to infuse ardour and
enthusiasm and unity into its efforts, to encourage and foster
everything that harmonised with its principle and purpose, to watch
against the counteracting influences of self-willed or ignorant
narrowness, to adjust its substantial rights and its increasing
activity to the new exigencies of political changes, to elicit from the
Church all that could command the respect and win the sympathy and
confidence of Englishmen, and make its presence recognised as a supreme
blessing by those whom nothing but what was great and real in its
benefits would satisfy--this was the aim from which, however perplexed
or wavering or inconsistent he may have been at times, he never really
swerved. In the breadth and largeness of his principle, in the freedom
and variety of its practical applications, in the distinctness of his
purposes and the intensity of his convictions, he was an example of
high statesmanship common in no age of the Church, and in no branch of
it. And all this rested on the most profound personal religion as its
foundation, a religion which became in time one of very definite
doctrinal preferences, but of wide sympathies, and which was always of
very exacting claims for the undivided work and efforts of a lifetime.

When he became Bishop he very soon revolutionised the old notion of a
Bishop's duties. He threw himself without any regard to increasing
trouble and labour on the great power of personal influence. In every
corner of his diocese he made himself known and felt; in all that
interested its clergy or its people he took his part more and more. He
went forth to meet men; he made himself their guest and companion as
well as their guide and chief; he was more often to be found moving
about his diocese than he was to be found at his own home at Cuddesdon.
The whole tone of communication between Bishop and people rose at once
in freedom and in spiritual elevation and earnestness; it was at once
less formal and more solemnly practical. He never spared his personal
presence; always ready to show himself, always ready to bring the rarer
and more impressive rites of the Church, such as Ordination, within the
view of people at a distance from his Palace or Cathedral, he was never
more at his ease than in a crowd of new faces, and never exhausted and
worn out in what he had to say to fresh listeners. Gathering men about
him at one time; turning them to account, assigning them tasks,
pressing the willing, shaming the indolent or the reluctant, at
another; travelling about with the rapidity and system of an officer
inspecting his positions, he infused into the diocese a spirit and zeal
which nothing but such labour and sympathy could give, and bound it
together by the bands of a strong and wise organisation.

What he did was but a very obvious carrying out of the idea of the
Episcopal office; but it had not seemed necessary once, and his merit
was that he saw both that it was necessary and practicable. It is he
who set the standard of what is now expected, and is more or less
familiar, in all Bishops. And as he began so he went on to the last. He
never flagged, he never grew tired of the continual and varied
intercourse which he kept up with his clergy and people. To the last he
worked his diocese as much as possible not from a distance, but from
local points which brought him into closer communication with his
flock. London, with its great interests and its great attractions,
social and political, never kept away one who was so keenly alive to
them, and so prominent in all that was eventful in his time, from
attending to the necessities and claims of his rural parishes. What his
work was to the very last, how much there was in him of unabated force,
of far-seeing judgment, of noble boldness and earnestness, of power
over the souls and minds of men in many ways divided, a letter from Dr.
Monsell[25] in our columns shows.

He had a great and all-important place in a very critical moment, to
which he brought a seriousness of purpose, a power and ripeness of
counsel, and a fearlessness distinctly growing up to the last. It is
difficult to see who will bend the bow which he has dropped.

  [25]
  ... The shock that the sudden announcement of an event so
  solemn must ever give, was tenfold great to one who, like myself,
  had been, during the past week, closely associated with him in
  anxious deliberations as to the best means of meeting the various
  difficulties and dangers with which the Church is at present
  surrounded.

  He had gathered round him, as was his annual wont, his Archdeacons
  and Rural Deans, to deliberate for the Church's interests; and in
  his opening address, and conduct of a most important meeting, never
  had he shone out more clearly in intellectual vigour, in theological
  soundness, in moral boldness, in Christian gentleness and love.

  ... He spoke upon the gravest questions of the day--questions which
  require more than they generally receive, delicate handling. He
  divided from the evil of things, which some in the spirit of party
  condemn wholesale, the hidden good which lies wrapt up in them, and
  which it would be sin as well as folly to sweep away. He made every
  man who heard him feel the blessing of having in the Church such a
  veteran leader, and drew forth from more than one there the openly
  expressed hope that as he had in bygone days been the bold and
  cautious controller of an earlier movement in the right direction,
  so now he would save to the Church some of her precious things which
  rude men would sweep away, and help her to regain what is essential
  to her spiritual existence without risking the sacredness of private
  life, the purity of private thoughts, the sense of direct
  responsibility between God and the soul, which are some of the most
  distinctive characteristics of our dear Church of England.

  From his council chamber in Winchester House I went direct with him
  to the greater council chamber of St. Stephen's to hear him there
  vindicate the rights and privileges of his order, and beat back the
  assaults of those who, in high places, think that by a speech in, or
  a vote of, either house they can fashion the Church as they please.
  Never did he speak with more point and power; and never did he seem
  to have won more surely the entire sympathy of the house.

  To gather in overwhelming numbers round him in the evening his
  London clergy and their families, to meet them all with the kind
  cordiality of a real father and friend, to run on far into the
  middle of the night in this laborious endeavour to please--was "the
  last effort of his toilsome day."



XXII

RETIREMENT OF THE PROVOST OF ORIEL[26]


  [26]
  _Guardian_, 4th November 1874.

Dr. Hawkins, the Provost of Oriel, has resigned the Provostship. He has
held it from 1828, within four years of half a century. The time during
which he has presided over his college has been one of the most
eventful periods in the history of the University; it has been a time
of revolt against custom, of reform, of keen conflict, of deep changes;
and in all connected with these he has borne a part, second to none in
prominence, in importance, and we must add, in dignity. No name of
equal distinction has disappeared from the list of Heads of Houses
since the venerable President of Magdalen passed away. But Dr. Routh,
though he watched with the keenest intelligence, and not without
sympathy, all that went on in the days into which his life had been
prolonged, watched it with the habits and thoughts of days long
departed; he had survived from the days of Bishop Horne and Dr. Parr
far into our new and strange century, to which he did not belong, and
he excited its interest as a still living example of what men were
before the French Revolution. The eminence of the Provost of Oriel is
of another kind. He calls forth interest because among all recent
generations of Oxford men, and in all their restless and exciting
movements, he has been a foremost figure. He belongs to modern Oxford,
its daring attempts, its fierce struggles, its successes, and its
failures. He was a man of whom not only every one heard, but whom every
one saw; for he was much in public, and his unsparing sense of public
duty made him regularly present in his place at Council, at
Convocation, at the University Church, at College chapel. The outward
look of Oxford will be altered by the disappearance in its ceremonies
and gatherings of his familiar form and countenance.

He would anywhere have been a remarkable man. His active and
independent mind, with its keen, discriminating, practical
intelligence, was formed and disciplined amid that company of
distinguished scholars and writers who, at Oxford, in the second decade
of the century were revolted by the scandalous inertness and
self-indulgence of the place, with its magnificent resources squandered
and wasted, its stupid orthodoxy of routine, its insensibility to the
questions and the dangers rising all round; men such as Keble, Arnold,
Davison, Copleston, Whately. These men, different as they were from one
another, all represented the awakening but still imperfect
consciousness that a University life ought to be something higher than
one of literary idleness, given up to the frivolities of mere elegant
scholarship, and to be crowned at last by comfortable preferment; that
there was much difficult work to be seriously thought about and done,
and that men were placed at Oxford under heavy responsibilities to use
their thoughts and their leisure for the direct service of their
generation. Clever fops and dull pedants joined in sneering at this new
activity and inquisitiveness of mind, and this grave interest and
employment of intellect on questions and in methods outside the
customary line of University studies and prejudices; but the men were
too powerful, and their work too genuine and effective, and too much in
harmony with the temper and tendencies of the time, to be stopped by
impertinence and obstructiveness. Dr. Hawkins was one of those who made
the Oriel Common-room a place of keen discussion and brilliant
conversation, and, for those days, of bold speculation; while the
College itself reflected something of the vigour and accomplishments of
the Common-room. Dr. Newman, in the _Apologia_, has told us, in
touching terms of acknowledgment, what Dr. Hawkins was when, fifty
years ago, the two minds first came into close contact, and what
intellectual services he believed Dr. Hawkins had rendered him. He
tells us, too, how Dr. Hawkins had profoundly impressed him by a work
in which, with characteristic independence and guarded caution equally
characteristic, he cuts across popular prejudices and confusions of
thought, and shows himself original in discerning and stating an
obvious truth which had escaped other people--his work on
_Unauthoritative Tradition_. His logical acuteness, his habits of
disciplined accuracy, abhorrent and impatient of all looseness of
thinking and expression, his conscientious efforts after substantial
reality in his sharpest distinctions, his capacity for taking trouble,
his serious and strong sense of the debt involved in the possession of
intellectual power--all this would have made him eminent, whatever the
times in which he lived.

But the times in which we live and what they bring with them mould most
of us; and the times shaped the course of the Provost of Oriel, and
turned his activity into a channel of obstinate and prolonged
antagonism, of resistance and protest, most conscientious but most
uncompromising, against two great successive movements, both of which
he condemned as unbalanced and recoiled from as revolutionary--the
Tractarian first, and then the Liberal movement in Oxford. Of the
former, it is not perhaps too much to say that he was in Oxford, at
least, the ablest and most hurtful opponent. From his counsels, from
his guarded and measured attacks, from the power given him by a partial
agreement against popular fallacies with parts of its views, from his
severe and unflinching determination, it received its heaviest blows
and suffered its greatest losses. He detested what he held to be its
anti-Liberal temper, and its dogmatic assertions; he resented its
taking out of his hands a province of theology which he and Whately had
made their own, that relating to the Church; he thought its tone of
feeling and its imaginative and poetical side exaggerated or childish;
and he could not conceive of its position except as involving palpable
dishonesty. No one probably guided with such clear and self-possessed
purpose that policy of extreme measures, which contributed to bring
about, if it did not itself cause, the break-up of 1845. Then succeeded
the great Liberal tide with its demands for extensive and immediate
change, its anti-ecclesiastical spirit, its scarcely disguised
scepticism, its daring philosophical and critical enterprises. By
degrees it became clear that the impatience and intolerance which had
purged the University of so many Churchmen had, after all, left the
Church movement itself untouched, to assume by degrees proportions
scarcely dreamed of when it began; but that what the defeat of the
Tractarians really had done was, to leave the University at the mercy
of Liberals to whom what had been called Liberalism in the days of
Whately was mere blind and stagnant Conservatism.

One war was no sooner over than the Provost of Oriel found another even
more formidable on his hands. The most dauntless and most unshaken of
combatants, he faced his new antagonists with the same determination,
the same unshrinking sense of duty with which he had fought his old
ones. He used the high authority and influence which his position and
his character justly gave him, to resist or to control, as far as he
could, the sweeping changes which, while bringing new life into Oxford,
have done so much to break up her connection of centuries with the
Church. He boldly confronted the new spirit of denial and unbelief. He
wrote, he preached, he published, as he had done against other
adversaries, always with measured and dignified argument, but not
shrinking from plain-spoken severity of condemnation. Never sparing
himself labour when he thought duty called, he did not avail himself of
the privilege of advancing years to leave the war to be carried on by
younger champions.

It is impossible for those who may at times have found themselves most
strongly, and perhaps most painfully, opposed to him, not to admire and
revere one who, through so long a career has, in what he held to be his
duty to the Church and to religion, fought so hard, encountered such
troubles, given up so many friendships and so much ease, and who, while
a combatant to the last, undiscouraged by odds and sometimes by
ill-success, has brought to the weariness and disappointment of old age
an increasing gentleness and kindliness of spirit, which is one of the
rarest tokens and rewards of patient and genuine self-discipline. A man
who has set himself steadily and undismayed to stem and bring to reason
the two most powerful currents of conviction and feeling which have
agitated his times, leaves an impressive example of zeal and
fearlessness, even to those against whom he has contended. What is the
upshot which has come of these efforts, and whether the controversies
of the moment have not in his case, as in others, diverted and absorbed
faculties which might have been turned to calmer and more permanent
tasks, we do not inquire.

Perhaps a life of combat never does all that the combatant thinks it
ought to accomplish, or compensates for the sacrifices it entails. In
the case of the Provost of Oriel, he had, with all his great and noble
qualities, one remarkable want, which visibly impaired his influence
and his persuasiveness. He was out of sympathy with the rising
aspirations and tendencies of the time on the two opposite sides; he
was suspicious and impatient of them. He was so sensible of their weak
points, the logical difficulties which they brought with them, their
precipitate and untested assumptions, the extravagance and unsoundness
of character which often seemed inseparable from them, that he seldom
did justice to them viewed in their complete aspect, or was even alive
to what was powerful and formidable in the depth, the complexity, and
the seriousness of the convictions and enthusiasm which carried them
onwards. In truth, for a man of his singular activity and reach of
mind, he was curiously indifferent to much that most interested his
contemporaries in thought and literature; he did not understand it, and
he undervalued it as if it belonged merely to the passing fashions of
the hour.

This long career is now over. Warfare is always a rude trade, and men
on all sides who have had to engage in it must feel at the end how much
there is to be forgiven and needing forgiveness; how much now appears
harsh, unfair, violent, which once appeared only necessary and just. A
hard hitter like the Provost of Oriel must often have left behind the
remembrance of his blows. But we venture to say that, even in those who
suffered from them, he has left remembrances of another and better
sort. He has left the recollection of a pure, consistent, laborious
life, elevated in its aim and standard, and marked by high public
spirit and a rigid and exacting sense of duty. In times when it was
wanted, he set in his position in the University an example of modest
and sober simplicity of living; and no one who ever knew him can doubt
the constant presence, in all his thoughts, of the greatness of things
unseen, or his equally constant reference of all that he did to the
account which he was one day to give at his Lord's judgment-seat. We
trust that he may be spared to enjoy the rest which a weaker or less
conscientious man would have claimed long ago.



XXIII

MARK PATTISON[27]


  [27]
  _Guardian_, 6th August 1884.

The Rector of Lincoln, who died at Harrogate this day week, was a man
about whom judgments are more than usually likely to be biassed by
prepossessions more or less unconscious, and only intelligible to the
mind of the judge. There are those who are in danger of dealing with
him too severely. There are also those whose temptation will be to
magnify and possibly exaggerate his gifts and acquirements--great as
they undoubtedly were,--the use that he made of them, and the place
which he filled among his contemporaries. One set of people finds it
not easy to forget that he had been at one time closer than most young
men of his generation to the great religious leaders whom they are
accustomed to revere; that he was of a nature fully to understand and
appreciate both their intellectual greatness and their moral and
spiritual height; that he had shared to the full their ideas and hopes;
that they, too, had measured his depth of character, and grasp, and
breadth, and subtlety of mind; and that the keenest judge among them of
men and of intellect had pirlud him out as one of the most original and
powerful of a number of very able contemporaries. Those who remember
this cannot easily pardon the lengths of dislike and hitterness to
which in after life Pattison allowed himself to be carried against the
cause which once had his hearty allegiance, and in which, if he had
discovered, as he thought, its mistakes and its weakness, he had once
recognised with all his soul the nobler side. And on the other hand,
the partisans of the opposite movement, into whose interests he so
disastrously, as it seems to us, and so unreservedly threw himself,
naturally welcomed and made the most of such an accession to their
strength, and such an unquestionable addition to their literary fame.
To have detached such a man from the convictions which he had so
professedly and so earnestly embraced, and to have enlisted him as
their determined and implacable antagonist--to be able to point to him
in him maturity and strength of his powers as one who, having known its
best aspects, had deliberately despaired of religion, and had turned
against its representatives the scorn and hatred of a passionate
nature, whose fires burned all the more fiercely under its cold crust
of reserve and sarcasm--this was a triumph of no common order; and it
might conceivably blind those who could rejoice in it to the
comparative value of qualities which, at any rate, were very rare and
remarkable ones.

Pattison was a man who, in many ways, did not do himself justice. As a
young man, his was a severe and unhopeful mind, and the tendency to
despond was increased by circumstances. There was something in the
quality of his unquestionable ability which kept him for long out of
the ordinary prizes of an Oxford career; in the class list, in the
higher competition for Fellowships, he was not successful. There are
those who long remembered the earnest pleading of the Latin letters
which it was the custom to send in when a man stood for a Fellowship,
and in which Pattison set forth his ardent longing for knowledge, and
his narrow and unprosperous condition as a poor student. He always came
very near; indeed, he more than once won the vote of the best judges;
but he just missed the prize. To the bitter public disappointments of
1845 were added the vexations caused by private injustice and
ill-treatment. He turned fiercely on those who, as he thought, had
wronged him, and he began to distrust men, and to be on the watch for
proofs of hollowness and selfishness in the world and in the Church.
Yet at this time, when people were hearing of his bitter and unsparing
sayings in Oxford, he was from time to time preaching in village
churches, and preaching sermons which both his educated and his simple
hearers thought unlike those of ordinary men in their force, reality,
and earnestness. But with age and conflict the disposition to harsh and
merciless judgments strengthened and became characteristic. This,
however, should be remembered: where he revered ho revered with genuine
and unstinted reverence; where he saw goodness in which he believed he
gave it ungrudging honour. He had real pleasure in recognising height
and purity of character, and true intellectual force, and he maintained
his admiration when the course of things had placed wide intervals
between him and those to whom it had been given. His early friendships,
where they could be retained, he did retain warmly and generously even
to the last; he seemed almost to draw a line between them and other
things in the world. The truth, indeed, was that beneath that icy and
often cruel irony there was at bottom a most warm and affectionate
nature, yearning for sympathy, longing for high and worthy objects,
which, from the misfortunes especially of his early days, never found
room to expand and unfold itself. Let him see and feel that anything
was real--character, purpose, cause--and at any rate it was sure of his
respect, probably of his interest. But the doubt whether it was real
was always ready to present itself to his critical and suspicious mind;
and these doubts grew with his years.

People have often not given Pattison credit for the love that was in
him for what was good and true; it is not to be wondered at, but the
observation has to be made. On the other hand, a panegyrie, like that
which we reprint from the _Times_, sets too high an estimate on his
intellectual qualities, and on the position which they gave him. He was
full of the passion for knowledge; he was very learned, very acute in
his judgment on what his learning brought before him, very versatile,
very shrewd, very subtle; too full of the truth of his subject to care
about seeming to be original; but, especially in his poetical
criticisms, often full of that best kind of originality which consists
in seeing and pointing out novelty in what is most familiar and trite.
But, not merely as a practical but as a speculative writer, he was apt
to be too much under the empire and pressure of the one idea which at
the moment occupied and interested his mind. He could not resist it; it
came to him with exclusive and overmastering force; he did not care to
attend to what limited it or conflicted with it. And thus, with all the
force and sagacity of his University theories, they were not always
self-consistent, and they were often one-sided and exaggerated. He was
not a leader whom men could follow, however much they might rejoice at
the blows which he might happen to deal, sometimes unexpectedly, at
things which they disliked. And this holds of more serious things than
even University reform and reconstruction.

And next, though every competent reader must do justice to Pattison's
distinction as a man of letters, as a writer of English prose, and as a
critic of what is noble and excellent and what is base and poor in
literature, there is a curious want of completeness, a frequent crudity
and hardness, a want, which is sometimes a surprising want, of good
sense and good taste, which form unwelcome blemishes in his work, and
just put it down below the line of first-rate excellence which it ought
to occupy. Morally, in that love of reality, and of all that is high
and noble in character, which certainly marked him, he was much better
than many suppose, who know only the strength of his animosities and
the bitterness of his sarcasm. Intellectually, in reach, and fulness,
and solidity of mental power, it may be doubted whether he was so great
as it has recently been the fashion to rate him.



XXIV

PATTISON'S ESSAYS[28]


  [28]
  _Essays by the late Mark Pattison, sometime Rector of Lincoln
  College_. Collected and arranged by Henry Nettleship, M.A., Corpus
  Professor of Latin in the University of Oxford. _Guardian_, 1st May
  1889.

This is a very interesting but a very melancholy collection of papers.
They are the remains of the work of a man of first-rate intellect,
whose powers, naturally of a high order, had been diligently and wisely
cultivated, whose mind was furnished in a very rare degree with all
that reading, wide and critical, could give, and which embraced in the
circle of its interest all that is important to human life and society.
Mr. Pattison had no vulgar standard of what knowledge is, and what
goodness is. He was high, sincere, exacting, even austere, in his
estimates of either; and when he was satisfied he paid honour with
sometimes unexpected frankness and warmth. But from some unfortunate
element in his temperament, or from the effect upon it of untoward and
unkindly circumstances at those critical epochs of mental life, when
character is taking its bent for good and all, he was a man in whose
judgment severity--and severity expressing itself in angry scorn--was
very apt to outrun justice. Longing for sympathy and not ill-fitted for
it, capable of rare exertions in helping those whom he could help, he
passed through life with a reputation for cynicism which, while he
certainly exhibited it, he no less certainly would, if he had known
how, have escaped from. People could easily tell what would incur his
dislike and opposition, what would provoke his slow, bitter, merciless
sarcasm; it was never easy to tell what would satisfy him, what would
attract his approval, when he could be tempted to see the good side of
a thing. It must not be forgotten that he had gone through a trial to
which few men are equal. He had passed from the extreme ranks and the
strong convictions of the Oxford movement--convictions of which the
translation of Aquinas's _Catena Aurea_, still printed in the list of
his works, is a memorial--to the frankest form of Liberal thought. As
he himself writes, we cannot give up early beliefs, much less the deep
and deliberate convictions of manhood, without some shock to the
character. In his case the change certainly worked. It made him hate
what he had left, and all that was like it, with the bitterness of one
who has been imposed upon, and has been led to commit himself to what
he now feels to be absurd and contemptible, and the bitterness of this
disappointment gave an edge to all his work. There seems through all
his criticism, powerful as it is, a tone of harshness, a readiness to
take the worst construction, a sad consciousness of distrust and
suspicion of all things round him, which greatly weakens the effect of
his judgment. If a man will only look for the worst side, he will only
find the worst side; but we feel that we act reasonably by not
accepting such a teacher as our guide, however ably he may state his
case. There is a want of equitableness and fairness in his stern and
sometimes cruel condemnations; and yet not religion only, but the
wisest wisdom of the world tells of the indispensable value of this
equitableness, this old Greek virtue of [Greek: epieikeia], in our
views of men and things. It is not religion only, but common sense
which says that "sweetness and light," kindliness, indulgence,
sympathy, are necessary for moral and spiritual health. Scorn,
indignation, keenly stinging sarcasm, doubtless have their place in a
world in which untruth and baseness abound and flourish; but to live on
these is poison, at least to oneself.

These fierce antipathies warped his judgment in strange and unexpected
ways. Among these papers is a striking one on Calvin. If any character
in history might be expected to have little attraction for him it is
Calvin. Dogmatist, persecutor, tyrant, the proud and relentless
fanatic, who more than any one consecrated harsh narrowness in religion
by cruel theories about God, what was there to recommend him to a lover
of liberty who had no patience for ecclesiastical pretensions of any
kind, and who tells us that Calvin's "sins against human liberty are of
the deepest dye"? For if Laud chastised his adversaries with whips,
Calvin chastised his with scorpions. Perhaps it is unreasonable to be
suprised, yet we are taken by surprise, when we find a thinker like Mr.
Pattison drawn by strong sympathy to Calvin and setting him up among
the heroes and liberators of humanity. Mr. Pattison is usually fair in
details, that is, he does not suppress bad deeds or qualities in those
whom he approves, or good deeds or qualities in those whom he hates: it
is in his general judgments that his failing comes out. He makes no
attempt to excuse the notorious features of Calvin's rule at Geneva;
but Mr. Pattison reads into his character a purpose and a grandeur
which place him far above any other man of his day. To recommend him to
our very different ways of thinking, Mr. Pattison has the courage to
allege that his interest in dogmatic theology was a subordinate matter,
and that the "renovation of character," the "moral purification of
humanity," was the great guiding idea of him who taught that out of the
mass of human kind only a predestined remnant could possibly be saved.
It is a singular interpretation of the mind of the author of the
_Institutes_:--

    The distinction of Calvin as a Reformer is not to be sought in the
    doctrine which now bears his name, or in any doctrinal peculiarity.
    His great merit lies _in his comparative neglect of dogma. He
    seized the idea of reformation as a real renovation of human
    character_. The moral purification of humanity as the original
    idea of Christianity is the guiding idea of his system.... He
    swept away at once the sacramental machinery of material media of
    salvation which the middle-age Church had provided in such
    abundance, and which Luther frowned upon, but did not reject. He
    was not satisfied to go back only to the historical origin of
    Christianity, but would found human virtue on the eternal
    antemundane will of God.

Again:--

    Calvin thought neither of fame or fortune. The narrowness of his
    views and the disinterestedness of his soul alike precluded him
    from regarding Geneva as a stage for the gratification of personal
    ambition. This abegnation of self was one great part of his
    success.

And then Mr. Pattison goes on to describe in detail how, governed and
possessed by one idea, and by a theory, to oppose which was "moral
depravity," he proceeded to establish his intolerable system of
discipline, based on dogmatic grounds--meddlesome, inquisitorial,
petty, cruel--over the interior of every household in Geneva. What is
there fascinating, or even imposing, in such a character? It is the
common case of political and religious bigots, whether Jacobin, or
Puritan, or Jesuit, poor in thought and sympathy and strong in will,
fixing their yoke on a society, till the plague becomes unbearable. He
seeks nothing for himself and, forsooth, he makes sacrifices. But he
gets what he wants, his idea carried out; and self-sacrifice is of what
we care for, and not of what we do not care for. And to keep up this
supposed character of high moral purpose, we are told of Calvin's
"comparative neglect of dogma," of his seizing the idea of a "real
reformation of human character," a "moral purification of humanity," as
the guiding idea of his system. Can anything be more unhistorical than
to suggest that the father and source of all Western Puritan theology
"neglected dogma," and was more of a moralist than a divine? It is not
even true that he "swept away at once the sacramental machinery" of
mediaeval and Lutheran teaching; Calvin writes of the Eucharist in
terms which would astonish some of his later followers. But what is the
reason why Mr. Pattison attributes to the historical Calvin so much
that does not belong to him, and, in spite of so much that repels, is
yet induced to credit him with such great qualities? The reason is to
be found in the intense antipathy with which Mr. Pattison regarded what
he calls "the Catholic reaction" over Europe, and in the fact that
undoubtedly Calvin's system and influence was the great force which
resisted both what was bad and false in it, and also what was good,
true, generous, humane. Calvinism opposed the "Catholic reaction"
point-blank, and that was enough to win sympathy for it, even from Mr.
Pattison.

The truth is that what Popery is to the average Protestant, and what
Protestant heresy is to the average Roman Catholic, the "Catholic
reaction," the "Catholic revival" in the sixteenth and seventeenth
centuries and in our own, is to Mr. Pattison's final judgment. It was
not only a conspiracy against human liberty, but it brought with it the
degradation and ruin of genuine learning. It is the all-sufficing cause
and explanation of the mischief and evil doings which he has to set
before us. Yet after the violence, the ignorance, the injustice, the
inconsistencies of that great ecclesiastical revolution which we call
by the vague name of Reformation, a "Catholic reaction" was inevitable.
It was not conceivable that common sense and certain knowledge would
submit for ever to be overcrowed by the dogmas and assertions of the
new teachers. Like other powerful and wide and strongly marked
movements, like the Reformation which it combated, it was a very mixed
thing. It produced some great evils and led to some great crimes. It
started that fatal religious militia, the Jesuit order, which,
notwithstanding much heroic self-sacrifice, has formed a permanent bar
to all possible reunion of Christendom, has fastened its yoke on the
Papacy itself, and has taught the Church, as a systematic doctrine, to
put its trust in the worst expedients of human policy. The religious
wars in France and Germany, the relentless massacres of the Low
Countries and the St. Bartholomew, the consecration of treason and
conspiracy, were, without doubt, closely connected with the "Catholic
reaction." But if this great awakening and stimulating influence raised
new temptations to human passion and wickedness, it was not only in the
service of evil that this new zeal was displayed. The Council of Trent,
whatever its faults, and it had many, was itself a real reformation.
The "Catholic revival" meant the rekindling of earnest religion and
care for a good life in thousands of souls. If it produced the Jesuits,
it as truly produced Port Royal and the Benedictines. Europe would be
indeed greatly the poorer if it wanted some of the most conspicuous
products of the Catholic revival.

It is Mr. Pattison's great misfortune that through obvious faults of
temper he has missed the success which naturally might have seemed
assured to him, of dealing with these subjects in a large and
dispassionate way. Scholar, thinker, student as he is, conversant with
all literature, familiar with books and names which many well-read
persons have never heard of, he has his bitter prejudices, like the
rest of us, Protestants or Catholics; and what he hates is continually
forcing itself into his mind. He tells, with great and pathetic force,
the terrible story of the judicial murder of Calas at Toulouse, and of
Voltaire's noble and successful efforts to bring the truth to light,
and to repair, as far as could be repaired, its infamous injustice. It
is a story which shows to what frightful lengths fanaticism may go in
leading astray even the tribunals of justice. But unhappily the story
can be paralleled in all times of the world's history; and though the
Toulouse mob and Judges were Catholics, their wickedness is no more a
proof against the Catholic revival than Titus Oates and the George
Gordon riots are against Protestantism, or the Jacobin tribunals
against Republican justice. But Mr. Pattison cannot conclude his
account without an application. Here you have an example of what the
Catholic revival does. It first breaks Calas on the wheel; and then,
because Voltaire took up his cause, it makes modern Frenchmen, if they
are Catholics, believe that Calas deserved it:--

    It is part of that general Catholic revival which has been working
    for some years, and which like a fog is spreading over the face of
    opinion.... The memory of Calas had been vindicated by Voltaire and
    the Encyclopedists. That was quite enough for the Catholics....
    It is the characteristic of Catholicism that it supersedes reason,
    and prejudges all matters by the application of fixed principles.

    It is no use that M. Coquerel flatters himself that he has set the
    matter at rest. He flatters himself in vain; he ought to know his
    Catholic countrymen better:--

    We have little doubt that as long as the Catholic religion shall
    last their little manuals of falsified history will continue to
    repeat that Jean Calas murdered his son because he had become a
    convert to the Catholic faith.

    Are little manuals of falsified history confined only to one set
    of people? Is not John Foxe still proof against the assaults of
    Dr. Maitland? The habit of _à priori_ judgments as to historical
    facts is, as Mr. Pattison truly says, "fatal to truth and
    integrity." It is most mischievous when it assumes a philosophic
    gravity and warps the criticism of a distinguished scholar.

This fixed habit of mind is the more provoking because, putting aside
the obtrusive and impertinent injustice to which it leads, Mr.
Pattison's critical work is of so high a character. His extensive and
accurate reading, the sound common sense with which he uses his
reading, and the modesty and absence of affectation and display which
seem to be a law of his writing, place him very high. Perhaps he
believes too much in books and learning, in the power which they exert,
and what they can do to enable men to reach the higher conquests of
moral and religious truth--perhaps he forgets, in the amplitude of his
literary resources, that behind the records of thought and feeling
there are the living mind and thought themselves, still clothed with
their own proper force and energy, and working in defiance of our
attempts to classify, to judge, or to explain: that there are the real
needs, the real destinies of mankind, and the questions on which they
depend--of which books are a measure indeed, but an imperfect one. As
an instance, we might cite his "Essay on the Theology of
Germany"--elaborate, learned, extravagant in its praise and in its
scorn, full of the satisfaction of a man in possession of a startling
and little known subject, but with the contradictions of a man who in
spite of his theories believes more than his theories. But, as a
student who deals with books and what books can teach, it is a pleasure
to follow him; his work is never slovenly or superficial; the reader
feels that he is in the hands of a man who thoroughly knows what he is
talking about, and both from conscience and from disposition is anxious
above all to be accurate and discriminative. If he fails, as he often
seems to us to do, in the justice and balance of his appreciation of
the phenomena before him, if his statements and generalisations are
crude and extravagant, it is that passion and deep aversions have
overpowered the natural accuracy of his faculty of judgment.

The feature which is characteristic in all his work is his profound
value for learning, the learning of books, of documents, of all
literature. He is a thinker, a clear and powerful one; he is a
philosopher, who has explored the problems of abstract science with
intelligence and interest, and fully recognises their importance; he
has taken the measure of the political and social questions which the
progress of civilisation has done so little to solve; he is at home
with the whole range of literature, keen and true in observation and
criticism; he has strongly marked views about education, and he took a
leading part in the great changes which have revolutionised Oxford. He
is all this; but beyond and more than all this he is a devotee of
learning, as other men are of science or politics, deeply penetrated
with its importance, keenly alive to the neglect of it, full of faith
in the services which it can render to mankind, fiercely indignant at
what degrades, or supplants, or enfeebles it. Learning, with the severe
and bracing discipline without which it is impossible, learning
embracing all efforts of human intellect--those which are warning
beacons as well those which have elevated and enlightened the human
mind--is the thing which attracts and satisfies him as nothing else
does; not mere soulless erudition, but a great supply and command of
varied facts, marshalled and turned to account by an intelligence which
knows their use. The absence of learning, or the danger to learning, is
the keynote of a powerful but acrid survey of the history and prospects
of the Anglican Church, for which, in spite of its one-sidedness and
unfairness, Churchmen may find not a little which it will be useful to
lay to heart. Dissatisfaction with the University system, in its
provision for the encouragement of learning and for strengthening and
protecting its higher interests, is the stimulus to his essay on Oxford
studies, which is animated with the idea of the University as a true
home of real learning, and is full of the hopes, the animosities, and,
it may be added, the disappointments of a revolutionary time. He exults
over the destruction of the old order; but his ideal is too high, he is
too shrewd an observer, too thorough and well-trained a judge of what
learning really means, to be quite satisfied with the new.

The same devotion to learning shows itself in a feature of his literary
work, which is almost characteristic--the delight which he takes in
telling the detailed story of the life of some of the famous working
scholars of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. These men, whose
names are known to the modern world chiefly in notes to classical
authors, or occasionally in some impertinent sneer, he likes to
contemplate as if they were alive. To him they are men with individual
differences, each with a character and fortunes of his own, sharers to
the full in the struggles and vicissitudes of life. He can appreciate
their enormous learning, their unwearied labour, their sense of honour
in their profession; and the editor of texts, the collator of various
readings and emendations, the annotator who to us perhaps seems but a
learned pedant appears to him as a man of sound and philosophic
thought, of enthusiasm for truth and light--perhaps of genius--a man,
too, with human affections and interests, with a history not devoid of
romance. There is something touching in Mr. Pattison's affection for
those old scholars, to whom the world has done scant justice. His own
chief literary venture was the life of one of the greatest of them,
Isaac Casaubon. We have in these volumes sketches, not so elaborate, of
several others, the younger Scaliger, Muretus, Huet, and the great
French printers, the Stephenses; and in these sketches we are also
introduced to a number of their contemporaries, with characteristic
observations on them, implying an extensive and first-hand knowledge of
what they were, and an acquaintance with what was going on in the
scholar world of the day. The most important of these sketches is the
account of Justus Scaliger. There is first a review article, very
vigorous and animated. But Mr. Pattison had intended a companion volume
to his Casaubon; and of this, which was never completed, we have some
fragments, not equal in force and compactness to the original sketch.
But sketch and fragments together present a very vivid picture of this
remarkable person, whose temper and extravagant vanity his biographer
admits, but who was undoubtedly a marvel both of knowledge and of the
power to use it, and to whom we owe the beginning of order and system
in chronology. Scaliger was to Mr. Pattison the type of the real
greatness of the scholar, a greatness not the less real that the world
could hardly understand it. He certainly leaves Scaliger before us,
with his strange ways of working, his hold of the ancient languages as
if they were mother tongues, his pride and slashing sarcasm, and his
absurd claim of princely descent, with lineaments not soon forgotten;
but it is amusing to meet once more, in all seriousness, Mr. Pattison's
_bête noire_ of the Catholic reaction, in the quarrels between Scaliger
and some shallow but clever and scurrilous Jesuits, whom he had
provoked by exposing the False Decretals and the False Dionysius, and
who revenged themselves by wounding him in his most sensitive part, his
claim to descent from the Princes of Verona. Doubtless the religious
difference envenomed the dispute, but it did not need the "Catholic
reaction" to account for such ignoble wrangles in those days.

These remains show what a historian of literature we have lost in Mr.
Pattison. He was certainly capable of doing much more than the
specimens of work which he has left behind; but what he has left is of
high value. Wherever the disturbing and embittering elements are away,
it is hard to say which is the more admirable, the patient and
sagacious way in which he has collected and mastered his facts, or the
wise and careful judgment which he passes on them. We hear of people
being spoilt by their prepossessions, their party, their prejudices,
the necessities of their political and ecclesiastical position; Mr.
Pattison is a warning that a man may claim the utmost independence, and
yet be maimed in his power of being just and reasonable by other things
than party. As it is, he has left us a collection of interesting and
valuable studies, disastrously and indelibly disfigured by an
implacable bitterness, in which he but too plainly found the greatest
satisfaction.

Mr. Pattison used in his later years to give an occasional lecture to a
London audience. One of the latest was one addressed, we believe, to a
class of working people on poetry, in which he dwelt on its healing and
consoling power. It was full of Mr. Pattison's clearness and directness
of thought, and made a considerable impression on some who only knew it
from an abstract in the newspapers; and it was challenged by a
working-man in the _Pall Mall Gazette_, who urged against it with some
power the argument of despair. Perhaps the lecture was not written; but
if it was, and our recollection of it is at all accurate, it was not
unworthy of a place in this collection.



XXV

BISHOP FRAZER[29]


  [29]
  _Guardian_, 28th October 1885.

Every one must be deeply touched by the Bishop of Manchester's sudden,
and, to most of us, unexpected death; those not the least who,
unhappily, found themselves in opposition to him in many important
matters. For, in spite of much that many people must wish otherwise in
his career as Bishop, it was really a very remarkable one. Its leading
motive was high and genuine public spirit, and a generous wish to be in
full and frank sympathy with all the vast masses of his diocese; to put
himself on a level with them, as man with man, in all their interests,
to meet them fearlessly and heartily, to raise their standard of
justice and large-heartedness by showing them that in their life of
toil he shared the obligation and the burden of labour, and felt bound
by his place to be as unsparing and unselfish a worker as any of his
flock. Indeed, he was as original as Bishop Wilberforce, though in a
different direction, in introducing a new type and ideal of Episcopal
work, and a great deal of his ideal he realised. It is characteristic
of him that one of his first acts was to remove the Episcopal residence
from a mansion and park in the country to a house in Manchester. There
can be no doubt that he was thoroughly in touch with the working
classes in Lancashire, in a degree to which no other Bishop, not even
Bishop Wilberforce, had reached. There was that in the frankness and
boldness of his address which disarmed their keen suspicion of a
Bishop's inevitable assumption of superiority, and put them at their
ease with him. He was always ready to meet them, and to speak off-hand
and unconventionally, and as they speak, not always with a due
foresight of consequences or qualifications. If he did sometimes in
this way get into a scrape, he did not much mind it, and they liked him
the better for it. He was perfectly fearless in his dealings with them;
in their disputes, in which he often was invited to take a part, he
took the part which seemed to him the right one, whether or not it
might be the unpopular one. Very decided, very confident in his
opinions and the expression of them, there yet was apparent a curious
and almost touching consciousness of a deficiency in some of the
qualities--knowledge, leisure, capacity for the deeper and subtler
tasks of thought--necessary to give a strong speaker the sense of being
on sure ground. But he trusted to his manly common sense; and this,
with the populations with which he had to deal, served him well, at
least in the main and most characteristic part of his work.

And for his success in this part of his work--in making the crowds in
Manchester feel that their Bishop was a man like themselves, quite
alive to their wants and claims and feelings, and not so unlike them in
his broad and strong utterances--his Episcopate deserves full
recognition and honour. He set an example which we may hope to see
followed and improved upon. But unfortunately there was also a less
successful side. He was a Bishop, an overseer of a flock of many ways
of life and thought, a fellow-worker with them, sympathetic, laborious,
warm-hearted. But he was also a Bishop of the Church of Christ, an
institution with its own history, its great truths to keep and deliver,
its characteristic differences from the world which it is sent to
correct and to raise to higher levels than those of time and nature.
There is no reason why this side of the Episcopal office should not be
joined to that in which Bishop Frazer so signally excelled. But for
this part of it he was not well qualified, and much in his performance
of it must be thought of with regret. The great features of Christian
truth had deeply impressed him; and to its lofty moral call he
responded with conviction and earnestness. But an acquaintance with
what he has to interpret and guard which may suffice for a layman is
not enough for a Bishop; and knowledge, the knowledge belonging to his
profession, the deeper and more varied knowledge which makes a man
competent to speak as a theologian, Bishop Frazer did not possess. He
rather disbelieved in it, and thought it useless, or, it might be,
mischievous. He resented its intrusion into spheres where he could only
see the need of the simplest and least abstruse language. But facts are
not what we may wish them, but what they are; and questions, if they
are asked, may have to be answered, with toil, it may be, and
difficulty, like the questions, assuredly not always capable of easy
and transparent statement, of mathematical or physical science; and
unless Christianity is a dream and its history one vast delusion, such
facts and such questions have made what we call theology. But to the
Bishop's practical mind they were without interest, and he could not
see how they could touch and influence living religion. And did not
care to know about them; he was impatient, and even scornful, when
stress was laid on them; he was intolerant when he thought they
competed with the immediate realities of religion. And this want of
knowledge and of respect for knowledge was a serious deficiency. It
gave sometimes a tone of thoughtless flippancy to his otherwise earnest
language. And as he was not averse to controversy, or, at any rate,
found himself often involved in it, he was betrayed sometimes into
assertions and contradictions of the most astounding inaccuracy, which
seriously weakened his authority when he was called upon to accept the
responsibility of exerting it.

Partly for this reason, partly from a certain vivacity of temper, he
certainly showed himself, in spite of his popular qualities, less equal
than many others of his brethren to the task of appeasing and assuaging
religious strife. The difficulties in Manchester were not greater than
in other dioceses; there was not anything peculiar in them; there was
nothing but what a patient and generous arbiter, with due knowledge of
the subject, might have kept from breaking out into perilous scandals.
Unhappily he failed; and though he believed that he had only done his
duty, his failure was a source of deep distress to himself and to
others. But now that he has passed away, it is but bare justice to say
that no one worked up more conscientiously to his own standard. He gave
himself, when he was consecrated, ten or twelve years of work, and then
he hoped for retirement. He has had fifteen, and has fallen at his
post. And to the last, the qualities which gave his character such a
charm in his earlier time had not disappeared. There seemed to be
always something of the boy about him, in his simplicity, his confiding
candour and frankness with his friends, his warm-hearted and kindly
welcome, his mixture of humility with a sense of power. Those who can
remember him in his younger days still see, in spite of all the storms
and troubles of his later ones, the image of the undergraduate and the
young bachelor, who years ago made a start of such brilliant promise,
and who has fulfilled so much of it, if not all. These things at any
rate lasted to the end--his high and exacting sense of public duty, and
his unchanging affection for his old friends.



XXVI

NEWMAN'S "APOLOGIA"[30]


  [30]
  _Apologia pro Vitâ Suâ_. By John Henry Newman, D.D. _Guardian_, 22nd
  June 1864.

We have not noticed before Dr. Newman's _Apologia_, which has been
coming out lately in weekly numbers, because we wished, when we spoke
of it, to speak of it as a whole. The special circumstances out of
which it arose may have prescribed the mode of publication. It may have
been thought more suitable, in point of form, to answer a pamphlet by a
series of pamphlets rather than at once by a set octavo of several
hundred pages. But the real subject which Dr. Newman has been led to
handle is one which will continue to be of the deepest interest long
after the controversy which suggested it is forgotten. The real subject
is the part played in the great Church movement by him who was the
leading mind in it; and it was unsatisfactory to speak of this till all
was said, and we could look on the whole course described. Such a
subject might have well excused a deliberate and leisurely volume to
itself; perhaps in this way we should have gained, in the laying out
and concentration of the narrative, and in what helps to bring it as a
whole before our thoughts. But a man's account of himself is never so
fresh and natural as when it is called out by the spur and pressure of
an accidental and instant necessity, and is directed to a purpose and
quickened by feelings which belong to immediate and passing
circumstances. The traces of hurried work are of light account when
they are the guarantees that a man is not sitting down to draw a
picture of himself, but stating his case in sad and deep earnest out of
the very fulness of his heart.

The aim of the book is to give a minute and open account of the steps
and changes by which Dr. Newman passed from the English Church to the
Roman. The history of a change of opinion has often been written from
the most opposite points of view; but in one respect this book seems to
stand alone. Let it be remembered what it is, the narrative and the
justification of a great conversion; of a change involving an entire
reversal of views, judgments, approvals, and condemnations; a change
which, with all ordinary men, involves a reversal, at least as great,
of their sympathies and aversions, of what they tolerate and speak
kindly of. Let it be considered what changes of feeling most changes of
religion compel and consecrate; how men, commonly and very naturally,
look back on what they have left and think they have escaped from, with
the aversion of a captive to his prison; how they usually exaggerate
and make absolute their divergence from what they think has betrayed,
fooled, and degraded them; how easily they are tempted to visit on it
and on those who still cling to it their own mistakes and faults. Let
it be remembered that there was here to be told not only the history of
a change, but the history of a deep disappointment, of the failure of a
great design, of the breakdown of hopes the most promising and the most
absorbing; and this, not in the silence of a man's study, but in the
fever and contention of a great struggle wrought up to the highest
pitch of passion and fierceness, bringing with it on all sides and
leaving behind it, when over, the deep sense of wrong. It is no history
of a mere intellectual movement, or of a passage from strong belief to
a weakened and impaired one, to uncertainty, or vagueness, or
indifference; it is not the account of a change by a man who is half
sorry for his change, and speaks less hostilely of what he has left
because he feels less friendly towards what he has joined. There is no
reserved thought to be discerned in the background of disappointment or
a wish to go back again to where he once was. It is a book which
describes how a man, zealous and impatient for truth, thought he had
found it in one Church, then thought that his finding was a delusion,
and sought for it and believed he had gained it in another. What it
shows us is no serene readjustment of abstract doctrines, but the wreck
and overturning of trust and conviction and the practical grounds of
life, accompanied with everything to provoke, embitter, and exasperate.
It need not be said that what Dr. Newman holds he is ready to carry out
to the end, or that he can speak severely of men and systems.

Let all this be remembered, and also that there is an opposition
between what he was and what he is, which is usually viewed as
irreconcilable, and which, on the ordinary assumptions about it, is so;
and we venture to say that there is not another instance to be quoted,
of the history of a conversion, in which he who tells his conversion
has so retained his self-possession, his temper, his mastery over his
own real judgment and thoughts, his ancient and legitimate sympathies,
his superiority to the natural and inevitable temptations of so altered
a position; which is so generous to what he feels to be strong and good
in what he has nevertheless abandoned, so fearless about letting his
whole case come out, so careless about putting himself in the right in
detail; which is so calm, and kindly, and measured, with such a quiet
effortless freedom from the stings of old conflicts, which bears so few
traces of that bitterness and antipathy which generally--and we need
hardly wonder at it--follows the decisive breaking with that on which a
man's heart was stayed, and for which he would once have died.

There is another thing to be said, and we venture to say it out
plainly, because Dr. Newman himself has shown that he knows quite well
what he has been doing. While he has written what will command the
sympathy and the reverence of every one, however irreconcilably opposed
to him, to whom a great and noble aim and the trials of a desperate and
self-sacrificing struggle to compass it are objects of admiration and
honour, it is undeniable that ill-nature or vindictiveness or stupidity
will find ample materials of his own providing to turn against him.
Those who know Dr. Newman's powers and are acquainted with his career,
and know to what it led him, and yet persist in the charge of
insincerity and dishonesty against one who probably has made the
greatest sacrifice of our generation to his convictions of truth, will
be able to pick up from his own narrative much that they would not
otherwise have known, to confirm and point the old familiar views
cherished by dislike or narrowness. This is inevitable when a man takes
the resolution of laying himself open so unreservedly, and with so
little care as to what his readers think of what he tells them, so that
they will be persuaded that he was ever, even from his boyhood, deeply
conscious of the part which he was performing in the sight of his
Maker. Those who smile at the belief of a deep and religious mind in
the mysterious interventions and indications of Providence in the
guidance of human life, will open their eyes at the feeling which leads
him to tell the story of his earliest recollections of Roman Catholic
peculiarities, and of the cross imprinted on his exercise-book. Those
who think that everything about religion and their own view of religion
is such plain sailing, so palpable and manifest, that all who are not
fools or knaves must be of their own opinion, will find plenty to
wonder at in the confessions of awful perplexity which equally before
and after his change Dr. Newman makes. Those who have never doubted,
who can no more imagine the practical difficulties accompanying a great
change of belief than they can imagine a change of belief itself, will
meet with much that to them will seem beyond pardon, in the actual
events of a change, involving such issues and such interests, made so
deliberately and cautiously, with such hesitation and reluctance, and
in so long a time; they will be able to point to many moments in it
when it will be easy to say that more or less ought to have been said,
more or less ought to have been done. Much more will those who are on
the side of doubt, who acquiesce in, or who desire the overthrow of
existing hopes and beliefs, rejoice in such a frank avowal of the
difficulties of religion and the perplexities of so earnest a believer,
and make much of their having driven such a man to an alternative so
obnoxious and so monstrous to most Englishmen. It is a book full of
minor premisses, to which many opposite majors will be fitted. But
whatever may be thought of many details, the effect and lesson of the
whole will not be lost on minds of any generosity, on whatever side
they may be; they will be touched with the confiding nobleness which
has kept back nothing, which has stated its case with its weak points
and its strong, and with full consciousness of what was weak as well as
of what was strong, which has surrendered its whole course of conduct,
just as it has been, to be scrutinised, canvassed, and judged. What we
carry away from following such a history is something far higher and
more solemn than any controversial inferences; and it seems almost like
a desecration to make, as we say, capital out of it, to strengthen mere
argument, to confirm a theory, or to damage an opponent.

The truth, in fact, is, that the interest is personal much more than
controversial. Those who read it as a whole, and try to grasp the
effect of all its portions compared together and gathered into one,
will, it seems to us, find it hard to bend into a decisive triumph for
any of the great antagonist systems which appear in collision. There
can be no doubt of the perfect conviction with which Dr. Newman has
taken his side for good. But while he states the effect of arguments on
his own mind, he leaves the arguments in themselves as they were, and
touches on them, not for the sake of what they are worth, but to
explain the movements and events of his own course. Not from any
studied impartiality, which is foreign to his character, but from his
strong and keen sense of what is real and his determined efforts to
bring it out, he avoids the temptation--as it seems to us, who still
believe that he was more right once than he is now--to do injustice to
his former self and his former position. At any rate, the arguments to
be drawn from this narrative, for or against England, or for or against
Rome, seem to us very evenly balanced. Of course, such a history has
its moral. But the moral is not the ordinary vulgar one of the history
of a religious change. It is not the supplement or disguise of a
polemical argument. It is the deep want and necessity in our age of the
Church, even to the most intensely religious and devoted minds, of a
sound and secure intellectual basis for the faith which they value more
than life and all things. We hope that we are strong enough to afford
to judge fairly of such a spectacle, and to lay to heart its warnings,
even though the particular results seem to go against what we think
most right. It is a mortification and a trial to the English Church to
have seen her finest mind carried away and lost to her, but it is a
mortification which more confident and peremptory systems than hers
have had to undergo; the parting was not without its compensations if
only that it brought home so keenly to many the awfulness and the
seriousness of truth; and surely never did any man break so utterly
with a Church, who left so many sympathies behind him and took so many
with him, who continued to feel so kindly and with such large-hearted
justice to those from whom his changed position separated him in this
world for ever.

The _Apologia_ is the history of a great battle against Liberalism,
understanding by Liberalism the tendencies of modern thought to destroy
the basis of revealed religion, and ultimately of all that can be
called religion at all. The question which he professedly addresses
himself to set at rest, that of his honesty, is comparatively of slight
concern to those who knew him, except so far that they must be
interested that others, who did not know him, should not be led to do a
revolting injustice. The real interest is to see how one who felt so
keenly the claims both of what is new and what is old, who, with such
deep and unusual love and trust for antiquity, took in with quick
sympathy, and in its most subtle and most redoubtable shapes, the
intellectual movement of modern times, could continue to feel the force
of both, and how he would attempt to harmonise them. Two things are
prominent in the whole history. One is the fact of religion, early and
deeply implanted in the writer's mind, absorbing and governing it
without rival throughout. He speaks of an "inward conversion" at the
age of fifteen, "of which I was conscious, and of which I am still more
certain than that I have hands and feet." It was the religion of dogma
and of a definite creed which made him "rest in the thought of two, and
two only, supreme and luminously self-evident beings, myself and my
Creator"--which completed itself with the idea of a visible Church and
its sacramental system. Religion, in this aspect of it, runs unchanged
from end to end of the scene of change:--

    I have changed in many things; in this I have not. From the age of
    fifteen dogma has been the fundamental principle of my religion; I
    know no other religion. I cannot enter into the idea of any other
    sort of religion; religion, as a mere sentiment, is to me a dream
    and a mockery. As well can there be filial love without the fact
    of a father, as devotion without the fact of a Supreme Being. What
    I held in 1816 I held in 1833, and I hold in 1864. Please God I
    shall hold it to the end. Even when I was under Dr. Whately's
    influence I had no temptation to be less zealous for the dogmas of
    the faith.

The other thing is the haunting necessity, in an age of thought and
innovation, of a philosophy of religion, equally deep, equally
comprehensive and thorough, with the invading powers which it was
wanted to counteract; a philosophy, not on paper or in theory, but
answering to and vouched for by the facts of real life. In the English
Church he found, we think that we may venture to say, the religion
which to him was life, but not the philosophy which he wanted. The
_Apologia_ is the narrative of his search for it. Two strongly marked
lines of thought are traceable all through, one modern in its scope and
sphere, the other ancient. The leading subject of his modern thought is
the contest with liberal unbelief; contrasted with this was his strong
interest in Christian antiquity, his deep attachment to the creed, the
history, and the moral temper of the early Church. The one line of
thought made him, and even now makes him, sympathise with Anglicanism,
which is in the same boat with him, holds the same principle of the
unity and continuity of revealed truth, and is doing the same work,
though, as he came to think in the end, feebly and hopelessly. The
other, more and more, carried him away from Anglicanism; and the
contrast and opposition between it and the ancient Church, in
organisation, in usage, and in that general tone of feeling which
quickens and gives significance and expression to forms, overpowered
more and more the sense of affinity, derived from the identity of
creeds and sacraments and leading points of Church polity, and from the
success with which the best and greatest Anglican writers had
appropriated and assimilated the theology of the Fathers. But though he
urges the force of ecclesiastical precedents in a startling way, as in
the account which he gives of the effect of the history of the
Monophysites on his view of the tenableness of the Anglican theory,
absolutely putting out of consideration the enormous difference of
circumstances between the cases which are compared, and giving the
instance in question a force and importance which seem to be in
singular contrast with the general breadth and largeness of his
reasoning, it was not the halting of an ecclesiastical theory which
dissatisfied him with the English Church.

Anglicanism was not daring enough for him. With his ideas of the coming
dangers and conflicts, he wanted something bold and thoroughgoing,
wide-reaching in its aims, resolute in its language, claiming and
venturing much. Anglicanism was not that. It had given up as
impracticable much that the Church had once attempted. It did not
pretend to rise so high, to answer such great questions, to lay down
such precise definitions. Wisely modest, or timidly uncertain--mindful
of the unalterable limits of our human condition, _we_ say; forgetful,
_he_ thought, or doubting, or distrustful, of the gifts and promises of
a supernatural dispensation--it certainly gave no such complete and
decisive account of the condition and difficulties of religion and the
world, as had been done once, and as there were some who did still.
There were problems which it did not profess to solve; there were
assertions which others boldly risked, and which it shrunk from making;
there were demands which it ventured not to put forward. Again, it was
not refined enough for him; it had little taste for the higher forms of
the saintly ideal; it wanted the austere and high-strung-virtues; it
was contented, for the most part, with the domestic type of excellence,
in which goodness merged itself in the interests and business of the
common world, and, working in them, took no care to disengage itself or
mark itself off, as something distinct from them and above them. Above
all, Anglicanism was too limited; it was local, insular, national; its
theory was made for its special circumstances; and he describes in a
remarkable passage how, in contrast with this, there rung in his ears
continually the proud self-assertion of the other side, _Securus
judicat orbis terrarum_. What he wanted, what it was the aim of his
life to find, was a great and effective engine against Liberalism; for
years he tried, with eager but failing hope, to find it in the theology
and working of the English Church; when he made up his mind that
Anglicanism was not strong enough for the task, he left it for a system
which had one strong power; which claimed to be able to shut up
dangerous thought.

Very sorrowful, indeed, is the history, told so openly, so simply, so
touchingly, of the once promising advance, of the great breakdown. And
yet, to those who still cling to what he left, regret is not the only
feeling. For he has the nobleness and the generosity to say what he
_did_ find in the English Church, as well as what he did not find. He
has given her up for good, but he tells and he shows, with no grudging
frankness, what are the fruits of her discipline. "So I went on for
years, up to 1841. It was, in a human point of view, the happiest time
of my life.... I did not suppose that such sunshine would last, though I
knew not what would be its termination. It was the time of plenty, and
during its seven years I tried to lay up as much as I could for the
dearth which was to follow it." He explains and defends what to us seem
the fatal marks against Rome; but he lets us see with what force, and
for how long, they kept alive his own resistance to an attraction which
to him was so overwhelming. And he is at no pains to conceal--it seems
even to console him to show--what a pang and wrench it cost him to
break from that home under whose shadow his spiritual growth had
increased. He has condemned us unreservedly; but there must, at any
rate, be some wonderful power and charm about that which he loved with
a love which is not yet extinguished; else how could he write of the
past as he does? He has shown that he can understand, though he is
unable to approve, that others should feel that power still.

Dr. Newman has stated, with his accustomed force and philosophical
refinement, what he considers the true idea of that infallibility,
which he looks upon as the only power in the world which can make head
against and balance Liberalism--which "can withstand and baffle the
fierce energy of passion, and the all-corroding, all-dissolving
scepticism of the intellect in religious inquiries;" which he considers
"as a provision, adapted by the mercy of the Creator, to preserve
religion in the world, and to restrain that freedom of thought which is
one of the greatest of our natural gifts, from its own suicidal
excesses." He says, as indeed is true, that it is "a tremendous power,"
though he argues that, in fact, its use is most wisely and beneficially
limited. And doubtless, whatever the difficulty of its proof may be,
and to us this proof seems simply beyond possibility, it is no mere
power upon paper. It acts and leaves its mark; it binds fast and
overthrows for good. But when, put at its highest, it is confronted
with the "giant evil" which it is supposed to be sent into the world to
repel, we can only say that, to a looker-on, its failure seems as
manifest as the existence of the claim to use it. It no more does its
work, in the sense of _succeeding_ and triumphing, than the less
magnificent "Establishments" do. It keeps _some_ check--it fails on a
large scale and against the real strain and pinch of the mischief; and
they, too, keep _some_ check, and are not more fairly beaten than it
is, in "making a stand against the wild living intellect of man."

Without infallibility, it is said, men will turn freethinkers and
heretics; but don't they, _with_ it? and what is the good of the engine
if it will not do its work? And if it is said that this is the fault of
human nature, which resists what provokes and checks it, still that
very thing, which infallibility was intended to counteract, goes on
equally, whether it comes into play or not. Meanwhile, truth does stay
in the world, the truth that there has been among us a Divine Person,
of whom the Church throughout Christendom is the representative,
memorial, and the repeater of His message; doubtless, the means of
knowledge are really guarded; yet we seem to receive that message as we
receive the witness of moral truth; and it would not be contrary to the
analogy of things here if we had often got to it at last through
mistakes. But when it is reached, there it is, strong in its own power;
and it is difficult to think that if it is not strong enough in itself
to stand, it can be protected by a claim of infallibility. A future, of
which infallibility is the only hope and safeguard, seems to us indeed
a prospect of the deepest gloom.

Dr. Newman, in a very remarkable passage, describes the look and
attitude of invading Liberalism, and tells us why he is not forward in
the conflict. "It seemed to be a time of all others in which Christians
had a call to be patient, in which they had no other way of helping
those who were alarmed than that of exhorting them to have a little
faith and fortitude, and 'to beware,' as the poet says, 'of dangerous
steps.'" And he interprets "recent acts of the highest Catholic
authority" as meaning that there is nothing to do just now but to sit
still and trust. Well; but the _Christian Year_ will do that much for
us, just as well.

People who talk glibly of the fearless pursuit of truth may here see a
real example of a life given to it--an example all the more solemn and
impressive if they think that the pursuit was in vain. It is easy to
declaim about it, and to be eloquent about lies and sophistries; but it
is shallow to forget that truth has its difficulties. To hear some
people talk, it might be thought that truth was a thing to be made out
and expressed at will, under any circumstances, at any time, amid any
complexities of facts or principles, by half an hour's choosing to be
attentive, candid, logical, and resolute; as if there was not a chance
of losing what perhaps you have, as well as of gaining what you think
you need. If they would look about them, if they would look into
themselves, they would recognise that Truth is an awful and formidable
goddess to all men and to all systems; that all have their weak points
where virtually, more or less consciously, more or less dexterously,
they shrink from meeting her eye; that even when we make sacrifice of
everything for her sake, we find that she still encounters us with
claims, seemingly inconsistent with all that she has forced us to
embrace--with appearances which not only convict us of mistake, but
seem to oblige us to be tolerant of what we cannot really assent to.

She gives herself freely to the earnest and true-hearted inquirer; but
to those who presume on the easiness of her service, she has a side of
strong irony. You common-sense men, she seems to say, who see no
difficulties in the world, you little know on what shaky ground you
stand, and how easily you might be reduced to absurdity. You critical
and logical intellects, who silence all comers and cannot be answered,
and can show everybody to be in the wrong--into what monstrous and
manifest paradoxes are you not betrayed, blind to the humble facts
which upset your generalisations, not even seeing that dulness itself
can pronounce you mistaken!

In the presence of such a narrative as this, sober men will think more
seriously than ever about charging their most extreme opponents with
dishonesty and disregard to truth.

As we said before, this history seems to us to leave the theological
question just where it was. The objections to Rome, which Dr. Newman
felt so strongly once, but which yielded to other considerations, we
feel as strongly still. The substantial points of the English theory,
which broke down to his mind, seem to us as substantial and trustworthy
as before. He failed, but we believe that, in spite of everything,
England is the better for his having made his trial. Even Liberalism
owes to the movement of which he was the soul much of what makes it now
such a contrast, in largeness of mind and warmth, to the dry,
repulsive, narrow, material Liberalism of the Reform era. He, and he
mainly, has been the source, often unrecognised and unsuspected, of
depth and richness and beauty, and the strong passion for what is
genuine and real, in our religious teaching. Other men, other
preachers, have taken up his thoughts and decked them out, and had the
credit of being greater than their master.

In looking back on the various turns and vicissitudes of his English
course, we, who inherit the fruits of that glorious failure, should
speak respectfully and considerately where we do not agree with him,
and with deep gratitude--all the more that now so much lies between
us--where we do. But the review makes us feel more than ever that the
English Church, whose sturdy strength he underrated, and whose
irregular theories provoked him, was fully worthy of the interest and
the labours of the leader who despaired of her. Anglicanism has so far
outlived its revolutions, early and late ones, has marched on in a
distinct path, has developed a theology, has consolidated an
organisation, has formed a character and tone, has been the organ of a
living spirit. The "magnetic storms" of thought which sweep over the
world may be destructive and dangerous to it, as much as, but not more
than, to other bodies which claim to be Churches and to represent the
message of God. But there is nothing to make us think that, in the
trials which may be in store, the English Church will fail while others
hold their own.



XXVII

DR. NEWMAN ON THE "EIRENICON"[31]


  [31]
  _The Times_, 31st March 1866.

Dr. Pusey's Appeal has received more than one answer. These answers,
from the Roman Catholic side, are--what it was plain that they would
be--assurances to him that he looks at the question from an entirely
mistaken point of view; that it is, of course, very right and good of
him to wish for peace and union, but that there is only one way of
peace and union--unconditional submission. He may have peace and union
for himself at any moment, if he will; so may the English Church, or
the Greek Church, or any other religious body, organised or
unorganised.

The way is always open; there is no need to write long books or make
elaborate proposals about union. Union means becoming Catholic;
becoming Catholic means acknowledging the exclusive claims of the Pope
or the Roman Church. In the long controversy one party has never for an
instant wavered in the assertion that it could not, and never would, be
in the wrong. The way to close the controversy, and the only one, is to
admit that Dr. Pusey shall have any amount of assurance and proof that
the Roman position and Roman doctrine and practice are the right ones.

His misapprehensions shall be corrected; his ignorance of what is Roman
theology fully, and at any length, enlightened. There is no desire to
shrink from the fullest and most patient argument in its favour, and he
may call it, if he likes, explanation. But there is only one practical
issue to what he has proposed--not to stand bargaining for impossible
conditions, but thankfully and humbly to join himself to the true
Church while he may. It is only the way in which the answer is given
that varies. Here characteristic differences appear. The authorities of
the Roman Catholic Church swell out to increased magnificence, and
nothing can exceed the suavity and the compassionate scorn with which
they point out the transparent absurdity and the audacity of such
proposals. The Holy Office at Rome has not, it may be, yet heard of Dr.
Pusey; it may regret, perhaps, that it did not wait for so
distinguished a mark for its censure; but its attention has been drawn
to some smaller offenders of the same way of thinking, and it has been
induced to open all the floodgates of its sonorous and antiquated
verbiage to sweep away and annihilate a poor little London
periodical--"_ephemeridem cui titulus, 'The Union Review_.'" The
Archbishop of Westminster, not deigning to name Dr. Pusey, has seized
the opportunity to reiterate emphatically, in stately periods and with
a polished sarcasm, his boundless contempt for the foolish people who
dare to come "with swords wreathed in myrtle" between the Catholic
Church and "her mission to the great people of England." On the other
hand, there have been not a few Roman Catholics who have listened with
interest and sympathy to what Dr. Pusey had to say, and, though
obviously they had but one answer to give, have given it with a sense
of the real condition and history of the Christian world, and with the
respect due to a serious attempt to look evils in the face. But there
is only one person on the Roman Catholic side whose reflections on the
subject English readers in general would much care to know. Anybody
could tell beforehand what Archbishop Manning would say; but people
could not feel so certain what Dr. Newman might say.

Dr. Newman has given his answer; and his answer is, of course, in
effect the same as that of the rest of his co-religionists. He offers
not the faintest encouragement to Dr. Pusey's sanguine hopes. If it is
possible to conceive that one side could move in the matter, it is
absolutely certain that the other would be inflexible. Any such dealing
on equal terms with the heresy and schism of centuries is not to be
thought of; no one need affect surprise at the refusal. What Dr. Pusey
asks is, in fact, to pull the foundation out from under the whole
structure of Roman Catholic pretensions. Dr. Newman does not waste
words to show that the plan of the _Eirenicon_ is impossible. He
evidently assumes that it is so, and we agree with him. But there are
different ways of dispelling a generous dream, and telling a serious
man who is in earnest that he is mistaken. Dr. Newman does justice, as
he ought to do, to feelings and views which none can enter into better
than he, whatever he may think of them now. He does justice to the
understanding and honesty, as well as the high aims, of an old friend,
once his comrade in difficult and trying times, though now long parted
from him by profound differences, and to the motives which prompted so
venturous an attempt as the _Eirenicon_ to provoke public discussion on
the reunion of Christendom. He is capable of measuring the real state
of the facts, and the mischiefs and evils for which a remedy is wanted,
by a more living rule than the suppositions and consequences of a
cut-and-dried theory. Rightly or wrongly he argues--at least, he gives
us something to think of. Perhaps not the least of his merit is that he
writes simply and easily in choice and varied English, instead of
pompously ringing the changes on a set of _formulae_ which beg the
question, and dinning into our ears the most extravagant assertions of
foreign ecclesiastical arrogance. We may not always think him fair, or
a sound reasoner, but he is conciliatory, temperate, and often
fearlessly candid. He addresses readers who will challenge and examine
what he says, not those whose minds are cowed and beaten down before
audacity in proportion to its coolness, and whom paradox, the more
extreme the better, fascinates and drags captive. To his old friend he
is courteous, respectful, sympathetic; where the occasion makes it
fitting, affectionate, even playful, as men are who can afford to let
their real feelings come out, and have not to keep up appearances.
Unflinching he is in maintaining his present position as the upholder
of the exclusive claims of the Roman Church to represent the Catholic
Church of the Creeds; but he has the good sense and good feeling to
remember that he once shared the views of those whom he now
controverts, and that their present feelings about the divisions of
Christendom were once his own. Such language as the following is plain,
intelligible, and manly. Of course, he has his own position, and must
see things according to it. But he recognises the right of conscience
in those who, having gone a long way with him, find that they can go no
further, and he pays a compliment, becoming as from himself, and not
without foundation in fact, to the singular influence which, from
whatever cause, Dr. Pusey's position gives him, and which, we may add,
imposes on him, in more ways than one, very grave responsibilities:--

    You, more than any one else alive, have been the present and
    untiring agent by whom a great work has been effected in it; and,
    far more than is usual, you have received in your lifetime, as
    well as merited, the confidence of your brethren. You cannot speak
    merely for yourself; your antecedents, your existing influence,
    are a pledge to us that what you may determine will be the
    determination of a multitude. Numbers, too, for whom you cannot
    properly be said to speak, will be moved by your authority or your
    arguments; and numbers, again, who are of a school more recent
    than your own, and who are only not your followers because they
    have outstripped you in their free speeches and demonstrative acts
    in our behalf, will, for the occasion, accept you as their
    spokesman. There is no one anywhere--among ourselves, in your own
    body, or, I suppose, in the Greek Church--who can affect so vast a
    circle of men, so virtuous, so able, so learned, so zealous, as
    come, more or less, under your influence; and I cannot pay them
    all a greater compliment than to tell them they ought all to be
    Catholics, nor do them a more affectionate service than to pray
    that they may one day become such....

    I recollect well what an outcast I seemed to myself when I took
    down from the shelves of my library the volumes of St. Athanasius
    or St. Basil, and set myself to study them; and how, on the
    contrary, when at length I was brought into Catholicism, I kissed
    them with delight, with a feeling that in them I had more than all
    that I had lost, and, as though I were directly addressing the
    glorious saints who bequeathed them to the Church, I said to the
    inanimate pages, "You are now mine, and I am now yours, beyond any
    mistake." Such, I conceive, would be the joy of the persons I
    speak of if they could wake up one morning and find themselves
    possessed by right of Catholic traditions and hopes, without
    violence to their own sense of duty; and certainly I am the last
    man to say that such violence is in any case lawful, that the
    claims of conscience are not paramount, or that any one may
    overleap what he deliberately holds to be God's command, in order
    to make his path easier for him or his heart lighter.

    I am the last man to quarrel with this jealous deference to the
    voice of our conscience, whatever judgment others may form of us
    in consequence, for this reason, because their case, as it at
    present stands, has as you know been my own. You recollect well
    what hard things were said against us twenty-five years ago which
    we knew in our hearts we did not deserve. Hence, I am now in the
    position of the fugitive Queen in the well-known passage, who,
    "_haud ignara mali_" herself, had learned to sympathise with those
    who were inheritors of her past wanderings.

Dr. Newman's hopes, and what most of his countrymen consider the hopes
of truth and religion, are not the same. His wish is, of course, that
his friend should follow him; a wish in which there is not the
slightest reason to think that he will be gratified. But differently as
we must feel as to the result, we cannot help sharing the evident
amusement with which Dr. Newman recalls a few of the compliments which
were lavished on him by some of his present co-religionists when he was
trying to do them justice, and was even on the way to join them. He
reprints with sly and mischievous exactness a string of those glib
phrases of controversial dislike and suspicion which are common to all
parties, and which were applied to him by "priests, good men, whose
zeal outstripped their knowledge, and who in consequence spoke
confidently, when they would have been wiser had they suspended their
adverse judgment of those whom they were soon to welcome as brothers in
communion." It is a trifle, but it strikes us as characteristic. Dr.
Newman is one of the very few who have carried into his present
communion, to a certain degree at least, an English habit of not
letting off the blunders and follies of his own side, and of daring to
think that a cause is better served by outspoken independence of
judgment than by fulsome, unmitigated puffing. It might be well if even
in him there were a little more of this habit. But, so far as it goes,
it is the difference between him and most of those who are leaders on
his side. Indirectly he warns eager controversialists that they are not
always the wisest and the most judicious and far-seeing of men; and we
cannot quarrel with him, however little we may like the occasion, for
the entertainment which he feels in inflicting on his present brethren
what they once judged and said of him, and in reminding them that their
proficiency in polemical rhetoric did not save them from betraying the
shallowness of their estimate and the shortness of their foresight.

When he comes to discuss the _Eirenicon_, Dr. Newman begins with a
complaint which seems to us altogether unreasonable. He seems to think
it hard that Dr. Pusey should talk of peace and reunion, and yet speak
so strongly of what he considers the great corruptions of the Roman
Church. In ordinary controversy, says Dr. Newman, we know what we are
about and what to expect; "'_Caedimur, et totidem plagis consumimus
hostem_.' We give you a sharp cut and you return it.... But we at least
have not professed to be composing an _Eirenicon_, when we treated you
as foes." Like Archbishop Manning, Dr. Newman is reminded "of the sword
wreathed in myrtle;" but Dr. Pusey, he says, has improved on the
ancient device,--"Excuse me, you discharge your olive-branch as if from
a catapult."

This is, no doubt, exactly what Dr. Pusey has done. Going much further
than the great majority of his countrymen will go with him in
admissions in favour of the Roman Catholic Church, he has pointed out
with a distinctness and force, never, perhaps, exceeded, what is the
impassable barrier which, as long as it lasts, makes every hope of
union idle. The practical argument against Rome is stated by him in a
shape which comes home to the consciences of all, whatever their
theological training and leanings, who have been brought up in English
ways and ideas of religion. But why should he not? He is desirous of
union--the reunion of the whole of Christendom. He gives full credit to
the Roman communion--much more credit than most of his brethren think
him justified in giving--for what is either defensible or excellent in
it. Dr. Newman must be perfectly aware that Dr. Pusey has gone to the
very outside of what our public feeling in England will bear in favour
of efforts for reconciliation, and he nowhere shows any sign that he is
thinking of unconditional submission. How, then, can he be expected to
mince matters and speak smoothly when he comes to what he regards as
the real knot of the difficulty, the real and fatal bar to all
possibility of a mutual understanding? If his charges are untrue or
exaggerated in detail or colouring, that is another matter; but the
whole of his pleading for peace presupposes that there are great and
serious obstacles to it in what is practically taught and authorised in
the Roman Church; and it is rather hard to blame him for "not making
the best of things," and raising difficulties in the way of the very
object which he seeks, because he states the truth about these
obstacles. We are afraid that we must be of Dr. Newman's opinion that
the _Eirenicon_ is not calculated to lead, in our time at least, to
what it aims at--the reunion of Christendom; but this arises from the
real obstacles themselves, not from Dr. Pusey's way of stating them.
There may be no way to peace, but surely if there is, though it implies
giving full weight to your sympathies, and to the points on which you
may give way, it also involves the possibility of speaking out plainly,
and also of being listened to, on the points on which you really
disagree. Does Dr. Newman think that all Dr. Pusey felt he had to do
was to conciliate Roman Catholics? Does it follow, because objections
are intemperately and unfairly urged on the Protestant side, that
therefore they are not felt quite as much in earnest by sober and
tolerant people, and that they may not be stated in their real force
without giving occasion for the remark that this is reviving the old
cruel war against Rome, and rekindling a fierce style of polemics which
is now out of date? And how is Dr. Pusey to state these objections if,
when he goes into them, not in a vague declamatory way, but showing his
respect and seriousness by his guarded and full and definite manner of
proof, he is to be met by the charge that he does not show sufficient
consideration? All this may be a reason for thinking it vain to write
an Eirenicon at all. But if one is to be attempted, it certainly will
not do to make it a book of compliments. Its first condition is that if
it makes light of lesser difficulties it should speak plainly about
greater ones.

But this is, after all, a matter of feeling. No doubt, as Dr. Newman
says, people are not pleased or conciliated by elaborate proofs that
they are guilty of something very wrong or foolish. What is of more
interest is to know the effect on a man like Dr. Newman of such a
display of the prevailing tendency of religious thought and devotion in
his communion as Dr. Pusey has given from Roman Catholic writers. And
it is plain that, whoever else is satisfied with them, these tendencies
are not entirely satisfactory to Dr. Newman. That rage for foreign
ideas and foreign usages which has come over a section of his friends,
the loudest and perhaps the ablest section of them, has no charms for
him. He asserts resolutely and rather sternly his right to have an
opinion of his own, and declines to commit himself, or to allow that
his cause is committed, to a school of teaching which happens for the
moment to have the talk to itself; and he endeavours at great length to
present a view of the teaching of his Church which shall be free, if
not from all Dr. Pusey's objections, yet from a certain number of them,
which to Dr. Newman himself appear grave. After disclaiming or
correcting certain alleged admissions of his own, on which Dr. Pusey
had placed a construction too favourable to the Anglican Church, Dr.
Newman comes to a passage which seems to rouse him. A convert, says Dr.
Pusey, must take things as he finds them in his new communion, and it
would be unbecoming in him to criticise. This statement gives Dr.
Newman the opportunity of saying that, except with large qualifications,
he does not accept it for himself. Of course, he says, there are
considerations of modesty, of becomingness, of regard to the feelings
of others with equal or greater claims than himself, which bind a
convert as they bind any one who has just gained admission into a
society of his fellow men. He has no business "to pick and choose," and
to set himself up as a judge of everything in his new position. But
though every man of sense who thought he had reason for so great a
change would be generous and loyal in accepting his new religion as a
whole, in time he comes "to have a right to speak as well as to hear;"
and for this right, both generally and in his own case, he stands up
very resolutely:--

    Also, in course of time a new generation rises round him, and
    there is no reason why he should not know as much, and decide
    questions with as true an instinct, as those who perhaps number
    fewer years than he does Easter communions. He has mastered the
    fact and the nature of the differences of theologian from
    theologian, school from school, nation from nation, era from era.
    He knows that there is much of what may be called fashion in
    opinions and practices, according to the circumstances of time and
    place, according to current politics, the character of the Pope of
    the day, or the chief Prelates of a particular country; and that
    fashions change. His experience tells him that sometimes what is
    denounced in one place as a great offence, or preached up as a
    first principle, has in another nation been immemorially regarded
    in just a contrary sense, or has made no sensation at all, one way
    or the other, when brought before public opinion; and that loud
    talkers, in the Church as elsewhere, are apt to carry all before
    them, while quiet and conscientious persons commonly have to give
    way. He perceives that, in matters which happen to be in debate,
    ecclesiastical authority watches the state of opinion and the
    direction and course of controversy, and decides accordingly; so
    that in certain cases to keep back his own judgment on a point is
    to be disloyal to his superiors.

    So far generally; now in particular as to myself. After twenty
    years of Catholic life, I feel no delicacy in giving my opinion on
    any point when there is a call for me,--and the only reason why I
    have not done so sooner or more often than I have, is that there
    has been no call. I have now reluctantly come to the conclusion
    that your Volume _is_ a call. Certainly, in many instances in
    which theologian differs from theologian, and country from
    country, I have a definite judgment of my own; I can say so
    without offence to any one, for the very reason that from the
    nature of the case it is impossible to agree with all of them. I
    prefer English habits of belief and devotion to foreign, from the
    same causes, and by the same right, which justifies foreigners in
    preferring their own. In following those of my people, I show less
    singularity, and create less disturbance than if I made a flourish
    with what is novel and exotic. And in this line of conduct I am
    but availing myself of the teaching which I fell in with on
    becoming a Catholic; and it is a pleasure to me to think that what
    I hold now, and would transmit after me if I could, is only what I
    received then.

He observes that when he first joined the Roman Catholic Church the
utmost delicacy was observed in giving him advice; and the only warning
which he can recollect was from the Vicar-General of the London
district, who cautioned him against books of devotion of the Italian
school, which were then just coming into England, and recommended him
to get, as safe guides, the works of Bishop Hay. Bishop Hay's name is
thus, probably for the first time, introduced to the general English
public. It is difficult to forbear a smile at the great Oxford teacher,
the master of religious thought and feeling to thousands, being gravely
set to learn his lesson of a more perfect devotion, how to meditate and
how to pray, from "the works of Bishop Hay"; it is hardly more easy to
forbear a smile at his recording it. But Bishop Hay was a sort of
symbol, and represents, he says, English as opposed to foreign habits
of thought; and to these English habits he not only gives his
preference, but he maintains that they are more truly those of the
whole Roman Catholic body in England than the more showy and extreme
doctrines of a newer school. Dr. Pusey does wrong, he says, in taking
this new school as the true exponent of Roman Catholic ideas. That it
is popular he admits, but its popularity is to be accounted for by
personal qualifications in its leaders for gaining the ear of the
world, without supposing that they speak for their body.

    Though I am a convert, then, I think I have a right to speak out;
    and that the more because other converts have spoken for a long
    time, while I have not spoken; and with still more reason may I
    speak without offence in the case of your present criticisms of
    us, considering that in the charges you bring the only two English
    writers you quote in evidence are both of them converts, younger
    in age than myself. I put aside the Archbishop of course, because
    of his office. These two authors are worthy of all consideration,
    at once from their character and from their ability. In their
    respective lines they are perhaps without equals at this
    particular time; and they deserve the influence they possess. One
    is still in the vigour of his powers; the other has departed amid
    the tears of hundreds. It is pleasant to praise them for their
    real qualifications; but why do you rest on them as authorities?
    Because the one was "a popular writer"; but is there not
    sufficient reason for this in the fact of his remarkable gifts, of
    his poetical fancy, his engaging frankness, his playful wit, his
    affectionateness, his sensitive piety, without supposing that the
    wide diffusion of his works arises out of his particular
    sentiments about the Blessed Virgin? And as to our other friend,
    do not his energy, acuteness, and theological reading, displayed
    on the vantage ground of the historic _Dublin Review_, fully
    account for the sensation he has produced, without supposing that
    any great number of our body go his lengths in their view of the
    Pope's infallibility? Our silence as regards their writings is
    very intelligible; it is not agreeable to protest, in the sight of
    the world, against the writings of men in our own communion whom
    we love and respect. But the plain fact is this--they came to the
    Church, and have thereby saved their souls; but they are in no
    sense spokesmen for English Catholics, and they must not stand in
    the place of those who have a real title to such an office.

And he appeals from them, as authorities, to a list of much more sober
and modest writers, though, it may be, the names of all of them are not
familiar to the public. He enumerates as the "chief authors of the
passing generation," "Cardinal Wiseman, Dr. Ullathorne, Dr. Lingard,
Mr. Tierney, Dr. Oliver, Dr. Rock, Dr. Waterworth, Dr. Husenbeth, Mr.
Flanagan." If these well-practised and circumspect veterans in the
ancient controversy are not original and brilliant, at least they are
safe; and Dr. Newman will not allow the flighty intellectualism which
takes more hold of modern readers to usurp their place, and for himself
he sturdily and bluffly declines to give up his old standing-ground for
any one:--

    I cannot, then, without remonstrance, allow you to identify the
    doctrine of our Oxford friends in question, on the two subjects I
    have mentioned, with the present spirit or the prospective creed
    of Catholics; or to assume, as you do, that because they are
    thoroughgoing and relentless in their statements, therefore they
    are the harbingers of a new age, when to show a deference for
    Antiquity will be thought little else than a mistake. For myself,
    hopeless as you consider it, I am not ashamed still to take my
    stand upon the Fathers, and do not mean to budge. The history of
    their time is not yet an old almanac to me. Of course I maintain
    the value and authority of the "Schola," as one of the _loci
    theologici_; still I sympathise with Petavius in preferring to its
    "contentious and subtle theology" that "more elegant and fruitful
    teaching which is moulded after the image of erudite antiquity."
    The Fathers made me a Catholic, and I am not going to kick down
    the ladder by which I ascended into the Church. It is a ladder
    quite as serviceable for that purpose now as it was twenty years
    ago. Though I hold, as you remark, a process of development in
    Apostolic truth as time goes on, such development does not
    supersede the Fathers, but explains and completes them.

Is he right in saying that he is not responsible as a Roman Catholic
for the extravagances that Dr. Pusey dwells upon? He is, it seems to
us, and he is not. No doubt the Roman Catholic system is in practice a
wide one, and he has a right, which we are glad to see that he is
disposed to exercise, to maintain the claims of moderation and
soberness, and to decline to submit his judgment to the fashionable
theories of the hour. A stand made for independence and good sense
against the pressure of an exacting and overbearing dogmatism is a good
thing for everybody, though made in a camp with which we have nothing
to do. He goes far enough, indeed, as it is. Still, it is something
that a great writer, of whose genius and religious feeling Englishmen
will one day be even prouder than they are now, should disconnect
himself from the extreme follies of his party, and attempt to represent
what is the nobler and more elevated side of the system to which he has
attached himself. But it seems to us much more difficult for him to
release his cause from complicity with the doctrines which he dislikes
and fears. We have no doubt that he is not alone, and that there are
numbers of his English brethren who are provoked and ashamed at the
self-complacent arrogance and childish folly shown in exaggerating and
caricaturing doctrines which are, in the eyes of most Englishmen,
extravagant enough in themselves. But the question is whether he or the
innovators represent the true character and tendencies of their
religious system. It must be remembered that with a jealous and touchy
Government, like that of the Roman Church, which professes the duty and
boasts of the power to put down all dangerous ideas and language, mere
tolerance means much. Dr. Newman speaks as an Englishman when he writes
thus:--

    This is specially the case with great ideas. You may stifle them;
    or you may refuse them elbow-room; or you may torment them with
    your continual meddling; or you may let them have free course and
    range, and be content, instead of anticipating their excesses, to
    expose and restrain those excesses after they have occurred. But
    you have only this alternative; and for myself, I prefer much,
    wherever it is possible, to be first generous and then just; to
    grant full liberty of thought, and to call it to account when
    abused.

But that has never been the principle of his Church. At least, the
liberty which it has allowed has been a most one-sided liberty. It has
been the liberty to go any length in developing the favourite opinions
about the power of the Pope, or some popular form of devotion; but as
to other ideas, not so congenial, "great" ones and little ones too, the
lists of the Roman Index bear witness to the sensitive vigilance which
took alarm even at remote danger. And those whose pride it is that they
are ever ready and able to stop all going astray must be held
responsible for the going astray which they do not stop, especially
when it coincides with what they wish and like.

But these extreme writers do not dream of tolerance. They stoutly and
boldly maintain that they but interpret in the only natural and
consistent manner the mind of their Church; and no public or official
contradiction meets them. There may be a disapproving opinion in their
own body, but it does not show itself. The disclaimer of even such a
man as Dr. Newman is in the highest degree guarded and qualified. They
are the people who can excite attention and gain a hearing, though it
be an adverse one. They have the power to make themselves the most
prominent and accredited representatives of their creed, and, if
thoroughgoing boldness and ability are apt to attract the growth of
thought and conviction, they are those who are likely to mould its
future form. Sober prudent people may prefer the caution of Dr.
Newman's "chief authors," but to the world outside most of these will
be little more than names, and the advanced party, which talks most
strongly about the Pope's infallibility and devotion to St. Mary, has
this to say for itself. Popular feeling everywhere in the Roman
communion appears to go with it, and authority both in Rome and in
England shelters and sanctions it. Nothing can be more clearly and
forcibly stated than the following assertions of the unimpeachable
claim of "dominant opinions" in the Roman Catholic system by the
highest Roman Catholic authority in England. "It is an ill-advised
overture of peace," writes Archbishop Manning,

    to assail the popular, prevalent, and dominant opinions,
    devotions, and doctrines of the Catholic Church with hostile
    criticism.... The presence and assistance of the Holy Ghost, which
    secures the Church within the sphere of faith and morals, invests
    it also with instincts and a discernment which preside over its
    worship and doctrines, its practices and customs. We may be sure
    that whatever is prevalent in the Church, under the eye of its
    public authority, practised by the people, and not censured by its
    pastors, is at least conformable to faith and innocent as to
    morals. Whosoever rises up to condemn such practices and opinions
    thereby convicts himself of the private spirit which is the root
    of heresy. But if it be ill-advised to assail the mind of the
    Church, it is still more so to oppose its visible Head. There can
    be no doubt that the Sovereign Pontiff has declared the same
    opinion as to the temporal power as that which is censured in
    others, and that he defined the Immaculate Conception, and that he
    believes in his own infallibility. If these things be our
    reproach, we share it with the Vicar of Jesus Christ. They are not
    our private opinions, nor the tenets of a school, but the mind of
    the Pontiff, as they were of his predecessors, as they will be of
    those who come after him.--Archbishop Manning's _Pastoral_, pp.
    64-66, 1866.

To maintain his liberty against extreme opinions generally is one of
Dr. Newman's objects in writing his letter; the other is to state
distinctly what he holds and what he does not hold, as regards the
subject on which Dr. Pusey's appeal has naturally made so deep an
impression:--

    I do so, because you say, as I myself have said in former years,
    that "That vast system as to the Blessed Virgin ... to all of us
    has been the special _crux_ of the Roman system" (p. 101). Here, I
    say, as on other points, the Fathers are enough for me. I do not
    wish to say more than they, and will not say less. You, I know,
    will profess the same; and thus we can join issue on a clear and
    broad principle, and may hope to come to some intelligible result.
    We are to have a treatise on the subject of Our Lady soon from the
    pen of the Most Rev. Prelate; but that cannot interfere with such
    a mere argument from the Fathers as that to which I shall confine
    myself here. Nor, indeed, as regards that argument itself, do I
    profess to be offering you any new matter, any facts which have
    not been used by others,--by great divines, as Petavius, by living
    writers, nay, by myself on other occasions. I write afresh,
    nevertheless, and that for three reasons--first, because I wish to
    contribute to the accurate statement and the full exposition of
    the argument in question; next, because I may gain a more patient
    hearing than has sometimes been granted to better men than myself;
    lastly, because there just now seems a call on me, under my
    circumstances, to avow plainly what I do and what I do not hold
    about the Blessed Virgin, that others may know, did they come to
    stand where I stand, what they would and what they would not be
    bound to hold concerning her.

If this "vast system" is a _crux_ to any one, we cannot think that even
Dr. Newman's explanation will make it easier. He himself recoils, as
any Englishman of sense and common feeling must, at the wild
extravagances into which this devotion has run. But he accepts and
defends, on the most precarious grounds, the whole system of thought
out of which they have sprung by no very violent process of growth. He
cannot, of course, stop short of accepting the definition of the
Immaculate Conception as an article of faith, and, though he
emphatically condemns, with a warmth and energy of which no one can
doubt the sincerity, a number of revolting consequences drawn from the
theology of which that dogma is the expression, he is obliged to defend
everything up to that. For a professed disciple of the Fathers this is
not easy. If anything is certain, it is that the place which the
Blessed Virgin occupies in the Roman Catholic system--popular or
authoritative, if it is possible fairly to urge such a distinction in a
system which boasts of all-embracing authority--is something perfectly
different from anything known in the first four centuries. In all the
voluminous writings on theology which remain from them we may look in
vain for any traces of that feeling which finds words in the common
hymn, "_Ave, marls Stella_" and which makes her fill so large a space
in the teaching and devotion of the Roman Church. Dr. Newman attempts
to meet this difficulty by a distinction. The doctrine, he says, was
there, the same then as now; it is only the feelings, behaviour, and
usages, the practical consequences naturally springing from the
doctrine, which have varied or grown:--

    I fully grant that the _devotion_ towards the Blessed Virgin has
    increased among Catholics with the progress of centuries. I do not
    allow that the _doctrine_ concerning her has undergone a growth,
    for I believe it has been in substance one and the same from the
    beginning.

There is, doubtless, such a distinction, though whether available for
Dr. Newman's purpose is another matter. But when we recollect that
modern "doctrine," besides defining the Immaculate Conception, places
her next in glory to the Throne of God, and makes her the Queen of
Heaven, and the all-prevailing intercessor with her Son, the assertion
as to "doctrine" is a bold one. It rests, as it seems to us, simply on
Dr. Newman identifying his own inferences from the language of the
ancient writers whom he quotes with the language itself. They say a
certain thing--that Mary is the "second Eve." Dr. Newman, with all the
theology and all the controversies of eighteen centuries in his mind,
deduces from this statement a number of refined consequences as to her
sinlessness, and greatness, and reward, which seem to him to flow from
it, and says that it means all these consequences. Mr. Ruskin somewhere
quotes the language of an "eminent Academician," who remarks, in answer
to some criticism on a picture, "that if you look for curves, you will
see curves; and if you look for angles, you will see angles." So it is
here. The very dogma of the Immaculate Conception itself Dr. Newman
sees indissolubly involved in the "rudimentary teaching" which insists
on the parallelism between Eve and Mary:--

    Was not Mary as fully endowed as Eve?... If Eve was (as Bishop
    Bull and others maintain) raised above human nature by that
    indwelling moral gift which we call grace, is it rash to say that
    Mary had a greater grace?... And if Eve had this supernatural
    inward gift given her from the moment of her personal existence,
    is it possible to deny that Mary, too, had this gift from the very
    first moment of her personal existence? I do not know how to
    resist this inference:--well, this is simply and literally the
    doctrine of the Immaculate Conception. I say the doctrine of the
    Immaculate Conception is in its substance this, and nothing more
    or less than this (putting aside the question of degrees of
    grace), and it really does seem to me bound up in that doctrine of
    the Fathers, that Mary is the second Eve.

It seems obvious to remark that the Fathers are not even alleged to
have themselves drawn this irresistible inference; and next, that even
if it be drawn, there is a long interval between it and the elevation
of the Mother of Jesus Christ to the place to which modern Roman
doctrine raises her. Possibly, the Fathers might have said, as many
people will say now, that, in a matter of this kind, it is idle to draw
inferences when we are, in reality, utterly without the knowledge to
make them worth anything. At any rate, if they had drawn them, we
should have found some traces of it in their writings, and we find
none. We find abundance of poetical addresses and rhetorical
amplification, which makes it all the more remarkable that the plain
dogmatic view of her position, which is accepted by the Roman Church,
does not appear in them. We only find a "rudimentary doctrine," which,
naturally enough, gives the Blessed Virgin a very high and sacred place
in the economy of the Incarnation. But how does the doctrine, as it is
found in even their rhetorical passages, go a step beyond what would be
accepted by any sober reader of the New Testament? They speak of what
she was; they do not presume to say what she is. What Protestant could
have the slightest difficulty in saying not only what Justin says, and
Tertullian copies from him, and Irenaeus enlarges upon, but what Dr.
Newman himself says of her awful and solitary dignity, always excepting
the groundless assumption which, from her office in this world takes
for granted, first her sinlessness, and then a still higher office in
the next? We do not think that, as a matter of literary criticism, Dr.
Newman is fair in his argument from the Fathers. He lays great stress
on Justin Martyr, Tertullian, and Irenaeus, as three independent
witnesses from different parts of the world; whereas it is obvious that
Tertullian at any rate copies almost literally from Justin Martyr, and
it is impossible to compare a mere incidental point of rhetorical, or,
if it be so, argumentative illustration, occurring once or twice in a
long treatise, with a doctrine, such as that of the Incarnation itself,
on which the whole treatise is built, and of which it is full. The
wonder is, indeed, that the Fathers, considering how much they wrote,
said so little of her; scarcely less is it a wonder, then, that the New
Testament says so little, but from this little the only reason which
would prevent a Protestant reader of the New Testament from accepting
the highest statement of her historical dignity is the reaction from
the development of them into the consequences which have been notorious
for centuries in the unreformed Churches. Protestants, left to
themselves, are certainly not prone to undervalue the saints of
Scripture; it has been the presence of the great system of popular
worship confronting them which has tied their tongues in this matter.
Yet Anglican theologians like Mr. Keble, popular poets like Wordsworth,
broad Churchmen like Mr. Robertson, have said things which even Roman
Catholics might quote as expressions of their feeling. But Dr. Newman
must know that many things may be put, and put most truly, into the
form of poetical expression which will not bear hardening into a dogma.
A Protestant may accept and even amplify the ideas suggested by
Scripture about the Blessed Virgin; but he may feel that he cannot tell
how the Redeemer was preserved from sinful taint; what was the grace
bestowed on His mother; or what was the reward and prerogative which
ensued to her. But it is just these questions which the Roman doctrine
undertakes to answer without a shadow of doubt, and which Dr. Newman
implies that the theology of the Fathers answered as unambiguously.

But from what has happened in the history of religion, we do not think
that Protestants in general who do not shrink from high language about
Abraham, Moses, or David, would find anything unnatural or
objectionable in the language of the early Christian writers about the
Mother of our Lord, though possibly it might not be their own; but the
interval from this language to that certain knowledge of her present
office in the economy of grace which is implied in what Dr. Newman
considers the "doctrine" about her is a very long one. The step to the
modern "devotion" in its most chastened form is longer still. We cannot
follow the subtle train of argument which says that because the
"doctrine" of the second century called her the "second Eve," therefore
the devotion which sets her upon the altars of Christendom in the
nineteenth is a right development of the doctrine. What is wanted is
not the internal thread of the process, but the proof and confirmation
from without that it was the right process; and this link is just what
is wanting, except on a supposition which begs the question. It is
conceivable that this step from "doctrine" to "devotion" may have been
a mistake. It is conceivable that the "doctrine" may have been held in
the highest form without leading to the devotion; for Dr. Newman, of
course, thinks that Athanasius and Augustine held "the doctrine," yet,
as he says, "we have no proof that Athanasius himself had any special
devotion to the Blessed Virgin," and in another place he repeats his
doubts whether St. Chrysostom or St. Athanasius invoked her; "nay," he
adds, "I should like to know whether St. Augustine, in all his
voluminous writings, invokes her once." What has to be shown is, that
this step was not a mistake; that it was inevitable and legitimate.

"This being the faith of the Fathers about the Blessed Virgin," says
Dr. Newman, "we need not wonder that it should in no long time be
transmuted into devotion." The Fathers expressed a historical fact
about her in the term [Greek: Theotokos]; therefore, argues the later
view, she is the source of our present grace now. It is the _rationale_
of this inference, which is not an immediate or obvious one, which is
wanted. And Dr. Newman gives it us in the words of Bishop Butler:--

    Christianity is eminently an objective religion. For the most part
    it tells us of persons and facts in simple words, and leaves the
    announcement to produce its effect on such hearts as are prepared
    to receive it. This, at least, is its general character; and
    Butler recognises it as such in his _Analogy_, when speaking of
    the Second and Third Persons of the Holy Trinity:--"The internal
    worship," he says, "to the Son and Holy Ghost is no farther matter
    of pure revealed command than as the relations they stand in to us
    are matters of pure revelation; but the relations being known, the
    obligations to such internal worship are _obligations of reason
    arising out of those relations themselves_."

We acknowledge the pertinency of the quotation. So true is it that "the
relations being known," the obligations of worship arise of themselves
from these relations, that if the present relation of the Blessed
Virgin to mankind has always been considered to be what modern Roman
theology considers it, it is simply inconceivable that devotion to her
should not have been universal long before St. Athanasius and St.
Augustine; and equally inconceivable, to take Dr. Newman's remarkable
illustration, that if the real position of St. Joseph is next to her,
it should have been reserved for the nineteenth century, if not,
indeed, to find it out, at least to acknowledge it; but the whole
question is about the fact of the "relations" themselves. If we believe
that the Second and Third Persons are God, we do not want to be told to
worship them. But such a relation as Dr. Newman supposes in the case of
the Blessed Virgin does not flow of itself from the idea contained, for
instance, in the word [Greek: Theotokos], and even if it did, we should
still want to be told, in the case of a creature, and remembering the
known jealousy of religion of even the semblance of creature worship,
what _are_ the "religious regards," which, not flowing from the nature
of the case, but needing to be distinctly authorised, are right and
binding.

The question is of a dogmatic and a popular system. We most fully admit
that, with Dr. Newman or any other of the numberless well-trained and
excellent men in the Roman Church, the homage to the Mother does not
interfere with the absolutely different honour rendered to the Son. We
readily acknowledge the elevating and refining beauty of that
character, of which the Virgin Mother is the type, and the services
which that ideal has rendered to mankind, though we must emphatically
say that a man need not be a Roman Catholic to feel and to express the
charm of that moral beauty. But here we have a doctrine as definite and
precise as any doctrine can be, and a great system of popular devotion,
giving a character to a great religious communion. Dr. Newman is not
merely developing and illustrating an idea: he is asserting a definite
revealed fact about the unseen world, and defending its consequences in
a very concrete and practical shape. And the real point is what proof
has he given us that this is a revealed fact; that it is so, and that
we have the means of knowing it? He has given us certain language of
the early writers, which he says is a tradition, though it is only what
any Protestant might have been led to by reading his Bible. But between
that language, taken at its highest, and the belief and practice which
his Church maintains, there is a great gap. The "Second Eve," the
[Greek: Theotokos], are names of high dignity; but enlarge upon them as
we may, there is between them and the modern "Regina Coeli" an interval
which nothing but direct divine revelation can possibly fill; and of
this divine revelation the only evidence is the fact that there is the
doctrine. So awful and central an article of belief needs corresponding
proof. In Dr. Newman's eloquent pages we have much collateral thought
on the subject--sometimes instinct with his delicacy of perception and
depth of feeling, sometimes strangely over-refined and irrelevant, but
always fresh and instructive, whether to teach or to warn. The one
thing which is missing in them is direct proof.

He does not satisfy us, but he does greatly interest us in his way of
dealing with the practical consequences of his doctrine, in the
manifold development of devotion in his communion. What he tells us
reveals two things. By this devotion he is at once greatly attracted,
and he is deeply shocked. No one can doubt the enthusiasm with which he
has thrown himself into that devotion, an enthusiasm which, if it was
at one time more vehement and defiant than it is now, is still a most
intense element in his religious convictions. Nor do we feel entitled
to say that in him it interferes with religious ideas and feelings of a
higher order, which we are accustomed to suppose imperilled by it. It
leads him, indeed, to say things which astonish us, not so much by
their extreme language as by the absence, as it seems to us, of any
ground to say them at all. It forces him into a championship for
statements, in defending which the utmost that can be done is to frame
ingenious pleas, or to send back a vigorous retort. It tempts him at
times to depart from his generally broad and fair way of viewing
things, as when he meets the charge that the Son is forgotten for the
Mother, not merely by a denial, but by the rejoinder that when the
Mother is not honoured as the Roman Church honours her the honour of
the Son fails. It would have been better not to have reprinted the
following extract from a former work, even though it were singled out
for approval by the late Cardinal. The italics are his own:--

    I have spoken more on this subject in my _Essay on Development_,
    p. 438, "Nor does it avail to object that, in this contrast of
    devotional exercises, the human is sure to supplant the Divine,
    from the infirmity of our nature; for, I repeat, the question is
    one of fact, whether it has done so. And next, it must be asked,
    _whether the character of Protestant devotion towards Our Lord has
    been that of worship at all_; and not rather such as we pay to an
    excellent human being.... Carnal minds will ever create a carnal
    worship for themselves, and to forbid them the service of the
    saints will have no tendency to teach them the worship of God.
    Moreover, ... great and constant as is the devotion which the
    Catholic pays to St. Mary, it has a special province, and _has far
    more connection with the public services and the festive aspect of
    Christianity_, and with certain extraordinary offices which she
    holds, _than with what is strictly personal and primary in religion_".
    Our late Cardinal, on my reception, singled out to me this last
    sentence, for the expression of his especial approbation.

Can Dr. Newman defend the first of these two assertions, when he
remembers such books of popular Protestant devotion as Wesley's Hymns,
or the German hymn-books of which we have examples in the well-known
_Lyra Germanica_? Can he deny the second when he remembers the
exercises of the "Mois de Marie" in French churches, or if he has heard
a fervid and earnest preacher at the end of them urge on a church full
of young people, fresh from Confirmation and first Communion, a special
and personal self-dedication to the great patroness for protection amid
the daily trials of life, in much the same terms as in an English
Church they might be exhorted to commit themselves to the Redeemer of
mankind? Right or wrong, such devotion is not a matter of the "festive
aspect" of religion, but most eminently of what is "personal and
primary" in it; and surely of such a character is a vast proportion of
the popular devotion here spoken of.

But for himself, no doubt, he has accepted this _cultus_ on its most
elevated and refined side. He himself makes the distinction, and says
that there is "a healthy" and an "artificial" form of it; a devotion
which does not shock "solid piety and Christian good sense; I cannot
help calling this the English style." And when other sides are
presented to him, he feels what any educated Englishman who allows his
English feelings play is apt to feel about them. What is more, he has
the boldness to say so. He makes all kinds of reserves to save the
credit of those with whom he cannot sympathise. He speaks of the
privileges of Saints; the peculiarities of national temperament; the
distinctions between popular language and that used by scholastic
writers, or otherwise marked by circumstances; the special characters
of some of the writers quoted, their "ruthless logic," or their
obscurity; the inculpated passages are but few and scattered in
proportion to their context; they are harsh, but sound worse than they
mean; they are hardly interpreted and pressed. He reminds Dr. Pusey
that there is not much to choose between the Oriental Churches and Rome
on this point, and that of the two the language of the Eastern is the
most florid; luxuriant, and unguarded. But, after all, the true feeling
comes out at last, "And now, at length," he says, "coming to the
statements, not English, but foreign, which offend you, I will frankly
say that I read some of those which you quote with grief and almost
anger." They are "perverse sayings," which he hates. He fills a page
and a half with a number of them, and then deliberately pronounces his
rejection of them.

    After such explanations, and with such authorities to clear my
    path, I put away from me as you would wish, without any
    hesitation, as matters in which my heart and reason have no part
    (when taken in their literal and absolute sense, as any Protestant
    would naturally take them, and as the writers doubtless did not
    use them), such sentences and phrases as these:--that the mercy of
    Mary is infinite, that God has resigned into her hands His
    omnipotence, that (unconditionally) it is safer to seek her than
    her Son, that the Blessed Virgin is superior to God, that He is
    (simply) subject to her command, that our Lord is now of the same
    disposition as His Father towards sinners--viz. a disposition to
    reject them, while Mary takes His place as an Advocate with the
    Father and Son; that the Saints are more ready to intercede with
    Jesus than Jesus with the Father, that Mary is the only refuge of
    those with whom God is angry; that Mary alone can obtain a
    Protestant's conversion; that it would have sufficed for the
    salvation of men if our Lord had died, not to obey His Father, but
    to defer to the decree of His Mother, that she rivals our Lord in
    being God's daughter, not by adoption, but by a kind of nature;
    that Christ fulfilled the office of Saviour by imitating her
    virtues; that, as the Incarnate God bore the image of His Father,
    so He bore the image of His Mother; that redemption derived from
    Christ indeed its sufficiency, but from Mary its beauty and
    loveliness; that as we are clothed with the merits of Christ so we
    are clothed with the merits of Mary; that, as He is Priest, in
    like manner is she Priestess; that His body and blood in the
    Eucharist are truly hers, and appertain to her; that as He is
    present and received therein, so is she present and received
    therein; that Priests are ministers as of Christ, so of Mary; that
    elect souls are, born of God and Mary; that the Holy Ghost brings
    into fruitfulness His action by her, producing in her and by her
    Jesus Christ in His members; that the kingdom of God in our souls,
    as our Lord speaks, is really the kingdom of Mary in the soul--and
    she and the Holy Ghost produce in the soul extraordinary
    things--and when the Holy Ghost finds Mary in a soul He flies
    there.

    Sentiments such as these I never knew of till I read your book,
    nor, as I think, do the vast majority of English Catholics know
    them. They seem to me like a bad dream. I could not have conceived
    them to be said. I know not to what authority to go for them, to
    Scripture, or to the Fathers, or to the decrees of Councils, or to
    the consent of schools, or to the tradition of the faithful, or to
    the Holy See, or to Reason. They defy all the _loci theologici_.
    There is nothing of them in the Missal, in the Roman Catechism, in
    the Roman _Raccolta_, in the Imitation of Christ, in Gother,
    Challoner, Milner, or Wiseman, so far as I am aware. They do but
    scare and confuse me. I should not be holier, more spiritual, more
    sure of perseverance, if I twisted my moral being into the
    reception of them; I should but be guilty of fulsome frigid
    flattery towards the most upright and noble of God's creatures if
    I professed them--and of stupid flattery too; for it would be like
    the compliment of painting up a young and beautiful princess with
    the brow of a Plato and the muscle of an Achilles. And I should
    expect her to tell one of her people in waiting to turn me off her
    service without warning. Whether thus to feel be the _scandalum
    parvulorum_ in my case, or the _scandalum Pharisaeorum_, I leave
    others to decide; but I will say plainly that I had rather believe
    (which is impossible) that there is no God at all, than that Mary
    is greater than God. I will have nothing to do with statements,
    which can only be explained by being explained away. I do not,
    however, speak of these statements, as they are found in their
    authors, for I know nothing of the originals, and cannot believe
    that they have meant what you say; but I take them as they lie in
    your pages. Were any of them, the sayings of Saints in ecstasy, I
    should know they had a good meaning; still I should not repeat
    them myself; but I am looking at them, not as spoken by the
    tongues of Angels, but according to that literal sense which they
    bear in the mouths of English men and English women. And, as
    spoken by man to man in England in the nineteenth century, I
    consider them calculated to prejudice inquirers, to frighten the
    unlearned, to unsettle consciences, to provoke blasphemy, and to
    work the loss of souls.

Of course; it is what might be expected of him. But Dr. Newman has
often told us that we must take the consequences of our principles and
theories, and here are some of the consequences which meet him; and, as
he says, they "scare and confuse him." He boldly disavows them with no
doubtful indignation. But what other voice but his, of equal authority
and weight, has been lifted up to speak the plain truth about them?
Why, if they are wrong, extravagant, dangerous, is his protest
solitary? His communion has never been wanting in jealousy of dangerous
doctrines, and it is vain to urge that these things and things like
them have been said in a corner. The Holy Office is apt to detect
mischief in small writers as well as great, even if these teachers were
as insignificant as Dr. Newman would gladly make them. Taken as a
whole, and in connection with notorious facts, these statements are
fair examples of manifest tendencies, which certainly are not on the
decline. And if a great and spreading popular _cultus_, encouraged and
urged on beyond all former precedent, is in danger of being developed
by its warmest and most confident advocates into something of which
unreason is the lightest fault, is there not ground for interfering?
Doubtless Roman writers maybe quoted by Dr. Newman, who felt that there
was a danger, and we are vaguely told about some checks given to one or
two isolated extravagances, which, however, in spite of the checks, do
not seem to be yet extinct. But Allocutions and Encyclicals are not for
errors of this kind. Dr. Newman says that "it is wiser for the most
part to leave these excesses to the gradual operation of public
opinion,--that is, to the opinion of educated and sober Catholics; and
this seems to me the healthiest way of putting them down." We quite
agree with him; but his own Church does not think so; and we want to
see some evidence of a public opinion in it capable of putting them
down. As it is, he is reduced to say that "the line cannot be logically
drawn between the teaching of the Fathers on the subject and our own;"
an assertion which, if it were true, would be more likely to drag down
one teaching than to prop up the other; he has to find reasons, and
doubtless they are to be found thick as blackberries, for accounting
for one extravagance, softening down another, declining to judge a
third. But in the meantime the "devotion" in its extreme form, far
beyond what he would call the teaching of his Church, has its way; it
maintains its ground; it becomes the mark of the bold, the advanced,
the refined, as well as of the submissive and the crowd; it roots
itself under the shelter of an authority which would stop it if it was
wrong; it becomes "dominant"; it becomes at length part of that "mind
of the living Church" which, we are told, it is heresy to impugn,
treason to appeal from, and the extravagance of impertinent folly to
talk of reforming.

It is very little use, then, for Dr. Newman to tell Dr. Pusey or any
one else, "You may safely trust us English Catholics as to this
devotion." "English Catholics," as such,--it is the strength and the
weakness of their system,--have really the least to say in the matter.
The question is not about trusting "us English Catholics," but the
Pope, and the Roman Congregation, and those to whom the Roman
authorities delegate their sanction and give their countenance. If Dr.
Newman is able, as we doubt not he is desirous, to elevate the tone of
his own communion and put to shame some of its fashionable excesses, he
will do a great work, in which we wish him every success, though the
result of it might not really be to bring the body of his countrymen
nearer to it. But the substance of Dr. Pusey's charges remain after all
unanswered, and there is no getting over them while they remain. They
are of that broad, palpable kind against which the refinements of
argumentative apology play in vain. They can only be met by those who
feel their force, on some principle equally broad. Dr. Newman suggests
such a ground in the following remarks, which, much as they want
qualification and precision, have a basis of reality in them:--

    It is impossible, I say, in a doctrine like this, to draw the line
    cleanly between truth and error, right and wrong. This is ever the
    case in concrete matters which have life. Life in this world is
    motion, and involves a continual process of change. Living things
    grow into their perfection, into their decline, into their death.
    No rule of art will suffice to stop the operation of this natural
    law, whether in the material world or in the human mind.... What
    has power to stir holy and refined souls is potent also with the
    multitude, and the religion of the multitude is ever vulgar and
    abnormal; it ever will be tinctured with fanaticism and
    superstition while men are what they are. A people's religion is
    ever a corrupt religion. If you are to have a Catholic Church you
    must put up with fish of every kind, guests good and bad, vessels
    of gold, vessels of earth. You may beat religion out of men, if you
    will, and then their excesses will take a different direction; but
    if you make use of religion to improve them, they will make use of
    religion to corrupt it. And then you will have effected that
    compromise of which our countrymen report so unfavourably from
    abroad,--a high grand faith and worship which compels their
    admiration, and puerile absurdities among the people which excite
    their contempt.

It is like Dr. Newman to put his case in this broad way, making large
admissions, allowing for much inevitable failure. That is, he defends
his Church as he would defend Christianity generally, taking it as a
great practical system must be in this world, working with human nature
as it is. His reflection is, no doubt, one suggested by a survey of the
cause of all religion. The coming short of the greatest promisee, the
debasement of the noblest ideals, are among the commonplaces of
history. Christianity cannot be maintained without ample admissions of
failure and perversion. But it is one thing to make this admission for
Christianity generally, an admission which the New Testament in
foretelling its fortunes gives us abundant ground for making; and quite
another for those who maintain the superiority of one form of
Christianity above all others, to claim that they may leave out of the
account its characteristic faults. It is quite true that all sides
abundantly need to appeal for considerate judgment to the known
infirmity of human nature; but amid the conflicting pretensions which
divide Christendom no one side can ask to have for itself the exclusive
advantage of this plea. All may claim the benefit of it, but if it is
denied to any it must be denied to all. In this confused and imperfect
world other great popular systems of religion besides the Roman may use
it in behalf of shortcomings, which, though perhaps very different, are
yet not worse. It is obvious that the theory of great and living ideas,
working with a double edge, and working for mischief at last, holds
good for other things besides the special instance on which Dr. Newman
comments. It is to be further observed that to claim the benefit of
this plea is to make the admission that you come under the common law
of human nature as to mistake, perversion, and miscarriage, and this in
the matter of religious guidance the Roman theory refuses to do. It
claims for its communion as its special privilege an exemption from
those causes of corruption of which history is the inexorable witness,
and to which others admit themselves to be liable; an immunity from
going wrong, a supernatural exception from the common tendency of
mankind to be led astray, from the common necessity to correct and
reform themselves when they are proved wrong. How far this is realised,
not on paper and in argument, but in fact, is indeed one of the most
important questions for the world, and it is one to which the world
will pay more heed than to the best writing about it There are not
wanting signs, among others of a very different character, of an honest
and philosophical recognition of this by some of the ablest writers of
the Roman communion. The day on which the Roman Church ceases to
maintain that what it holds must be truth because it holds it, and
admits itself subject to the common condition by which God has given
truth to men, will be the first hopeful day for the reunion of
Christendom.



XXVIII

NEWMAN'S PAROCHIAL SERMONS[32]


  [32]
  _Parochial and Plain Sermons_. By John Henry Newman, B.D., formerly
  Vicar of St. Mary's, Oxford. Edited by W.J. Copeland, B.D. _Saturday
  Review_, 5th June 1869.

Dr. Newman's Sermons stand by themselves in modern English literature;
it might be said, in English literature generally. There have been
equally great masterpieces of English writing in this form of
composition, and there have been preachers whose theological depth,
acquaintance with the heart, earnestness, tenderness, and power have
not been inferior to his. But the great writers do not touch, pierce,
and get hold of minds as he does, and those who are famous for the
power and results of their preaching do not write as he does. His
sermons have done more perhaps than any one thing to mould and quicken
and brace the religious temper of our time; they have acted with equal
force on those who were nearest and on those who were farthest from him
in theological opinion. They have altered the whole manner of feeling
towards religious subjects. We know now that they were the beginning,
the signal and first heave, of a vast change that was to come over the
subject; of a demand from religion of a thoroughgoing reality of
meaning and fulfilment, which is familiar to us, but was new when it
was first made. And, being this, these sermons are also among the very
finest examples of what the English language of our day has done in the
hands of a master. Sermons of such intense conviction and directness of
purpose, combined with such originality and perfection on their purely
literary side, are rare everywhere. Remarkable instances, of course,
will occur to every one of the occasional exhibition of this
combination, but not in so sustained and varied and unfailing a way.
Between Dr. Newman and the great French school there is this
difference--that they are orators, and he is as far as anything can be
in a great preacher from an orator. Those who remember the tones and
the voice in which the sermons were heard at St. Mary's--we may refer
to Professor Shairp's striking account in his volume on Keble, and to a
recent article in the _Dublin Review_--can remember how utterly unlike
an orator in all outward ways was the speaker who so strangely moved
them. The notion of judging of Dr. Newman as an orator never crossed
their minds. And this puts a difference between him and a remarkable
person whose name has sometimes been joined with his--Mr. F. Robertson.
Mr. Robertson was a great preacher, but he was not a writer.

It is difficult to realise at present the effect produced originally by
these sermons. The first feeling was that of their difference in manner
from the customary sermon. People knew what an eloquent sermon was, or
a learned sermon, or a philosophical sermon, or a sermon full of
doctrine or pious unction. Chalmers and Edward Irving and Robert Hall
were familiar names; the University pulpit and some of the London
churches had produced examples of forcible argument and severe and
finished composition; and of course instances were abundant everywhere
of the good, sensible, commonplace discourse; of all that was heavy,
dull, and dry, and of all that was ignorant, wild, fanatical, and
irrational. But no one seemed to be able, or to be expected, unless he
avowedly took the buffoonery line which some of the Evangelical
preachers affected, to speak in the pulpit with the directness and
straightforward unconventionality with which men speak on the practical
business of life. With all the thought and vigour and many beauties
which were in the best sermons, there was always something forced,
formal, artificial about them; something akin to that mild pomp which
usually attended their delivery, with beadles in gowns ushering the
preacher to the carpeted pulpit steps, with velvet cushions, and with
the rustle and fulness of his robes. No one seemed to think of writing
a sermon as he would write an earnest letter. A preacher must approach
his subject in a kind of roundabout make-believe of preliminary and
preparatory steps, as if he was introducing his hearers to what they
had never heard of; make-believe difficulties and objections were
overthrown by make-believe answers; an unnatural position both in
speaker and hearers, an unreal state of feeling and view of facts, a
systematic conventional exaggeration, seemed almost impossible to be
avoided; and those who tried to escape being laboured and grandiloquent
only escaped it, for the most part, by being vulgar or slovenly. The
strong severe thinkers, jealous for accuracy, and loathing clap-trap as
they loathed loose argument, addressed and influenced intelligence; but
sermons are meant for heart and souls as well as minds, and to the
heart, with its trials and its burdens, men like Whately never found
their way. Those who remember the preaching of those days, before it
began to be influenced by the sermons at St. Mary's, will call to mind
much that was interesting, much that was ingenious, much correction of
inaccurate and confused views, much manly encouragement to high
principle and duty, much of refined and scholarlike writing. But for
soul and warmth, and the imaginative and poetical side of the religious
life, you had to go where thought and good sense were not likely to be
satisfied.

The contrast of Mr. Newman's preaching was not obvious at first. The
outside form and look was very much that of the regular best Oxford
type--calm, clear, and lucid in expression, strong in its grasp,
measured in statement, and far too serious to think of rhetorical
ornament. But by degrees much more opened. The range of experience from
which the preacher drew his materials, and to which he appealed, was
something wider, subtler, and more delicate than had been commonly
dealt with in sermons. With his strong, easy, exact, elastic language,
the instrument of a powerful and argumentative mind, he plunged into
the deep realities of the inmost spiritual life, of which cultivated
preachers had been shy. He preached so that he made you feel without
doubt that it was the most real of worlds to him; he made you feel in
time, in spite of yourself, that it was a real world with which you too
had concern. He made you feel that he knew what he was speaking about;
that his reasonings and appeals, whether you agreed with them or not,
were not the language of that heated enthusiasm with which the world is
so familiar; that he was speaking words which were the result of
intellectual scrutiny, balancings, and decisions, as well as of moral
trials, of conflicts and suffering within; words of the utmost
soberness belonging to deeply gauged and earnestly formed purposes. The
effect of his sermons, as compared with the common run at the time, was
something like what happens when in a company you have a number of
people giving their views and answers about some question before them.
You have opinions given of various worth and expressed with varying
power, precision, and distinctness, some clever enough, some clumsy
enough, but all more or less imperfect and unattractive in tone, and
more or less falling short of their aim; and then, after it all, comes
a voice, very grave, very sweet, very sure and clear, under whose words
the discussion springs up at once to a higher level, and in which we
recognise at once a mind, face to face with realities, and able to
seize them and hold them fast.

The first notable feature in the external form of this preaching was
its terse unceremonious directness. Putting aside the verbiage and
dulled circumlocution and stiff hazy phraseology of pulpit etiquette
and dignity, it went straight to its point. There was no waste of time
about customary formalities. The preacher had something to say, and
with a kind of austere severity he proceeded to say it. This, for
instance, is the sort of way in which a sermon would begin:--

    Hypocrisy is a serious word. We are accustomed to consider the
    hypocrite as a hateful, despicable character, and an uncommon one.
    How is it, then, that our Blessed Lord, when surrounded by an
    innumerable multitude, began, _first of all_, to warn His disciples
    against hypocrisy, as though they were in especial danger of
    becoming like those base deceivers the Pharisees? Thus an
    instructive subject is opened to our consideration, which I will
    now pursue.--Vol. I. Serm. X.

The next thing was that, instead of rambling and straggling over a
large subject, each sermon seized a single thought, or definite view,
or real difficulty or objection, and kept closely and distinctly to it;
and at the same time treated it with a largeness and grasp and ease
which only a full command over much beyond it could give. Every sermon
had a purpose and an end which no one could misunderstand. Singularly
devoid of anything like excitement--calm, even, self-controlled--there
was something in the preacher's resolute concentrated way of getting
hold of a single defined object which reminded you of the rapid spring
or unerring swoop of some strong-limbed or swift-winged creature on its
quarry. Whatever you might think that he did with it, or even if it
seemed to escape from him, you could have no doubt what he sought to
do; there was no wavering, confused, uncertain bungling in that
powerful and steady hand. Another feature was the character of the
writer's English. We have learned to look upon Dr. Newman as one of the
half-dozen or so of the innumerable good writers of the time who have
fairly left their mark as masters on the language. Little, assuredly,
as the writer originally thought of such a result, the sermons have
proved a permanent gift to our literature, of the purest English, full
of spring, clearness, and force. A hasty reader would perhaps at first
only notice a very light, strong, easy touch, and might think, too,
that it was a negligent one. But it was not negligence; real negligence
means at bottom bad work, and bad work will not stand the trial of
time. There are two great styles--the self-conscious, like that of
Gibbon or Macaulay, where great success in expression is accompanied by
an unceasing and manifest vigilance that expression shall succeed, and
where you see at each step that there is or has been much care and work
in the mind, if not on the paper; and the unconscious, like that of
Pascal or Swift or Hume, where nothing suggests at the moment that the
writer is thinking of anything but his subject, and where the power of
being able to say just what he wants to say seems to come at the
writer's command, without effort, and without his troubling himself
more about it than about the way in which he holds his pen. But both
are equally the fruit of hard labour and honest persevering
self-correction; and it is soon found out whether the apparent
negligence comes of loose and slovenly habits of mind, or whether it
marks the confidence of one who has mastered his instrument, and can
forget himself and let himself go in using it. The free unconstrained
movement of Dr. Newman's style tells any one who knows what writing is
of a very keen and exact knowledge of the subtle and refined secrets of
language. With all that uncared-for play and simplicity, there was a
fulness, a richness, a curious delicate music, quite instinctive and
unsought for; above all, a precision and sureness of expression which
people soon began to find were not within the power of most of those
who tried to use language. Such English, graceful with the grace of
nerve, flexibility, and power, must always have attracted attention;
but it had also an ethical element which was almost inseparable from
its literary characteristics. Two things powerfully determined the
style of these sermons. One was the intense hold which the vast
realities of religion had gained on the writer's mind, and the perfect
truth with which his personality sank and faded away before their
overwhelming presence; the other was the strong instinctive shrinking,
which was one of the most remarkable and certain marks of the beginners
of the Oxford movement, from anything like personal display, any
conscious aiming at the ornamental and brilliant, any show of gifts or
courting of popular applause. Morbid and excessive or not, there can be
no doubt of the stern self-containing severity which made them turn
away, not only with fear, but with distaste and repugnance, from all
that implied distinction or seemed to lead to honour; and the control
of this austere spirit is visible, in language as well as matter, in
every page of Dr. Newman's sermons.

Indeed, form and matter are closely connected in the sermons, and
depend one on another, as they probably do in all work of a high order.
The matter makes and shapes the form with which it clothes itself. The
obvious thing which presents itself in reading them is that, from first
to last, they are a great systematic attempt to raise the whole level
of religious thought and religious life. They carry in them the
evidence of a great reaction and a scornful indignant rising up against
what were going about and were currently received as adequate ideas of
religion. The dryness and primness and meagreness of the common Church
preaching, correct as it was in its outlines of doctrine, and sober and
temperate in tone, struck cold on a mind which had caught sight, in the
New Testament, of the spirit and life of its words. The recoil was even
stronger from the shallowness and pretentiousness and self-display of
what was popularly accepted as earnest religion; morally the preacher
was revolted at its unctuous boasts and pitiful performance, and
intellectually by its narrowness and meanness of thought and its
thinness of colour in all its pictures of the spiritual life. From
first to last, in all manner of ways, the sermons are a protest, first
against coldness, but even still more against meanness, in religion.
With coldness they have no sympathy, yet coldness may be broad and
large and lofty in its aspects; but they have no tolerance for what
makes religion little and poor and superficial, for what contracts its
horizon and dwarfs its infinite greatness and vulgarises its mystery.
Open the sermons where we will, different readers will rise from them
with very different results; there will be among many the strongest and
most decisive disagreement; there may be impatience at dogmatic
harshness, indignation at what seems overstatement and injustice,
rejection of arguments and conclusions; but there will always be the
sense of an unfailing nobleness in the way in which the writer thinks
and speaks. It is not only that he is in earnest; it is that he has
something which really is worth being in earnest for. He placed the
heights of religion very high. If you have a religion like
Christianity--this is the pervading note--think of it, and have it,
worthily. People will differ from the preacher endlessly as to how this
is to be secured. But that they will learn this lesson from the
sermons, with a force with which few other writers have taught it, and
that this lesson has produced its effect in our time, there can be no
doubt. The only reason why it may not perhaps seem so striking to
readers of this day is that the sermons have done their work, and we do
not feel what they had to counteract, because they have succeeded in
great measure in counteracting it. It is not too much to say that they
have done more than anything else to revolutionise the whole idea of
preaching in the English Church. Mr. Robertson, in spite of himself,
was as much the pupil of their school as Mr. Liddon, though both are so
widely different from their master.

The theology of these sermons is a remarkable feature about them. It is
remarkable in this way, that, coming from a teacher like Dr. Newman, it
is nevertheless a theology which most religious readers, except the
Evangelicals and some of the more extreme Liberal thinkers, can either
accept heartily or be content with, as they would be content with St.
Augustine or Thomas à Kempis--content, not because they go along with
it always, but because it is large and untechnical, just and
well-measured in the proportions and relative importance of its parts.
People of very different opinions turn to them, as being on the whole
the fullest, deepest, most comprehensive approximation they can find to
representing Christianity in a practical form. Their theology is
nothing new; nor does it essentially change, though one may observe
differences, and some important ones, in the course of the volumes,
which embrace a period from 1825 to 1842. It is curious, indeed, to
observe how early the general character of the sermons was determined,
and how in the main it continues the same. Some of the first in point
of date are among the "Plain Sermons"; and though they may have been
subsequently retouched, yet there the keynote is plainly struck of that
severe and solemn minor which reigns throughout. Their theology is
throughout the accepted English theology of the Prayer-book and the
great Church divines--a theology fundamentally dogmatic and
sacramental, but jealously keeping the balance between obedience and
faith; learned, exact, and measured, but definite and decided. The
novelty was in the application of it, in the new life breathed into it,
in the profound and intense feelings called forth by its ideas and
objects, in the air of vastness and awe thrown about it, in the
unexpected connection of its creeds and mysteries with practical life,
in the new meaning given to the old and familiar, in the acceptance in
thorough earnest, and with keen purpose to call it into action, of what
had been guarded and laid by with dull reverence. Dr. Newman can hardly
be called in these sermons an innovator on the understood and
recognised standard of Anglican doctrine; he accepted its outlines as
Bishop Wilson, for instance, might have traced them. What he did was
first to call forth from it what it really meant, the awful heights and
depths of its current words and forms; and next, to put beside them
human character and its trials, not as they were conventionally
represented and written about, but as a piercing eye and sympathising
spirit saw them in the light of our nineteenth century, and in the
contradictory and complicated movements, the efforts and failures, of
real life. He took theology for granted, as a Christian preacher has a
right to do; he does not prove it, and only occasionally meets
difficulties, or explains; but, taking it for granted, he took it at
its word, in its relation to the world of actual experience.

Utterly dissatisfied with what he found current as religion, Dr. Newman
sought, without leaving the old paths, to put before people a strong
and energetic religion based, not on feeling or custom, but on reason
and conscience, and answering, in the vastness of its range, to the
mysteries of human nature, and in its power to man's capacities and
aims. The Liberal religion of that day, with its ideas of natural
theology or of a cold critical Unitarianism, was a very shallow one;
the Evangelical, trusting to excitement, had worn out its excitement
and had reached the stage when its formulas, poor ones at the best, had
become words without meaning. Such views might do in quiet, easy-going
times, if religion were an exercise at will of imagination or thought,
an indulgence, an ornament, an understanding, a fashion; not if it
corresponded to such a state of things as is implied in the Bible, or
to man's many-sided nature as it is shown in Shakspeare. The sermons
reflect with merciless force the popular, superficial, comfortable
thing called religion which the writer saw before him wherever he
looked, and from which his mind recoiled. Such sermons as those on the
"Self-wise Enquirer" and the "Religion of the Day," with its famous
passage about the age not being sufficiently "gloomy and fierce in its
religion," have the one-sided and unmeasured exaggeration which seems
inseparable from all strong expressions of conviction, and from all
deep and vehement protests against general faults; but, qualify and
limit them as we may, their pictures were not imaginary ones, and there
was, and is, but too much to justify them. From all this trifling with
religion the sermons called on men to look into themselves. They
appealed to conscience; and they appealed equally to reason and
thought, to recognise what conscience is, and to deal honestly with it.
They viewed religion as if projected on a background of natural and
moral mystery, and surrounded by it--an infinite scene, in which our
knowledge is like the Andes and Himalayas in comparison with the mass
of the earth, and in which conscience is our final guide and arbiter.
No one ever brought out so impressively the sense of the impenetrable
and tremendous vastness of that amid which man plays his part. In such
sermons as those on the "Intermediate State," the "Invisible World,"
the "Greatness and Littleness of Human Life," the "Individuality of the
Soul," the "Mysteriousness of our Present Being," we may see
exemplified the enormous irruption into the world of modern thought of
the unknown and the unknowable, as much as in the writers who, with far
different objects, set against it the clearness and certainty of what
we do know. But, beyond all, the sermons appealed to men to go back
into their own thoughts and feelings, and there challenged them; were
not the preacher's words the echoes and interpreting images of their
own deepest, possibly most perplexing and baffling, experience? From
first to last this was his great engine and power; from first to last
he boldly used it. He claimed to read their hearts; and people felt
that he did read them, their follies and their aspirations, the blended
and tangled web of earnestness and dishonesty, of wishes for the best
and truest, and acquiescence in makeshifts; understating what ordinary
preachers make much of, bringing into prominence what they pass by
without being able to see or to speak of it; keeping before his hearers
the risk of mismanaging their hearts, of "all kinds of unlawful
treatment of the soul." What a contrast to ordinary ways of speaking on
a familiar theological doctrine is this way of bringing it into
immediate relation to real feeling:--

    It is easy to speak of human nature as corrupt in the general, to
    admit it in the general, and then get quit of the subject; as if,
    the doctrine being once admitted, there was nothing more to be done
    with it. But, in truth, we can have no real apprehension of the
    doctrine of our corruption till we view the structure of our minds,
    part by part; and dwell upon and draw out the signs of our
    weakness, inconsistency, and ungodliness, which are such as can
    arise from nothing but some strange original defect in our original
    nature.... We are in the dark about ourselves. When we act, we are
    groping in the dark, and may meet with a fall any moment. Here and
    there, perhaps, we see a little; or in our attempts to influence
    and move our minds, we are making experiments (as it were) with
    some delicate and dangerous instrument, which works we do not know
    how, and may produce unexpected and disastrous effects. The
    management of our hearts is quite above us. Under these
    circumstances it becomes our comfort to look up to God. "Thou, God,
    seest me." Such was the consolation of the forlorn Hagar in the
    wilderness. He knoweth whereof we are made, and He alone can uphold
    us. He sees with most appalling distinctness all our sins, all the
    windings and recesses of evil within us; yet it is our only comfort
    to know this, and to trust Him for help against ourselves.--Vol. I.
    Serm. XIII.

The preacher contemplates human nature, not in the stiff formal
language in which it had become conventional with divines to set out
its shortcomings and dangers, but as a great novelist contemplates and
tries to describe it; taking in all its real contradictions and
anomalies, its subtle and delicate shades; fixing upon the things which
strike us in ourselves or our neighbours as ways of acting and marks of
character; following it through its wide and varying range, its
diversified and hidden folds and subtle self-involving realities of
feeling and shiftiness; touching it in all its complex sensibilities,
anticipating its dim consciousnesses, half-raising veils which hide
what it instinctively shrinks from, sending through it unexpected
thrills and shocks; large-hearted in indulgence, yet exacting; most
tender, yet most severe. And against all this real play of nature he
sets in their full force and depth the great ideas of God, of sin, and
of the Cross; and, appealing not to the intelligence of an aristocracy
of choice natures, but to the needs and troubles and longings which
make all men one, he claimed men's common sympathy for the heroic in
purpose and standard. He warned them against being fastidious, where
they should be hardy. He spoke in a way that all could understand of
brave ventures, of resolutely committing themselves to truth and duty.

The most practical of sermons, the most real and natural in their way
of dealing with life and conduct, they are also intensely dogmatic. The
writer's whole teaching presupposes, as we all know, a dogmatic
religion; and these sermons are perhaps the best vindication of it
which our time, disposed to think of dogmas with suspicion, has seen.
For they show, on a large scale and in actual working instances, how
what is noblest, most elevated, most poetical, most free and searching
in a thinker's way of regarding the wonderful scene of life, falls in
naturally, and without strain, with a great dogmatic system like that
of the Church. Such an example does not prove that system to be true,
but it proves that a dogmatic system, as such, is not the cast-iron,
arbitrary, artificial thing which it is often assumed to be. It is,
indeed, the most shallow of all commonplaces, intelligible in ordinary
minds, but unaccountable in those of high power and range, whether they
believe or not, that a dogmatic religion is of course a hard, dry,
narrow, unreal religion, without any affinities to poetry or the truth
of things, or to the deeper and more sacred and powerful of human
thoughts. If dogmas are not true, that is another matter; but it is the
fashion to imply that dogmas are worthless, mere things of the past,
without sense or substance or interest, because they are dogmas. As if
Dante was not dogmatic in form and essence; as if the grandest and
worthiest religious prose in the English language was not that of
Hooker, nourished up amid the subtleties, but also amid the vast
horizons and solemn heights, of scholastic divinity. A dogmatic system
is hard in hard hands, and shallow in shallow minds, and barren in dull
ones, and unreal and empty to preoccupied and unsympathising ones; we
dwarf and distort ideas that we do not like, and when we have put them
in our own shapes and in our own connection, we call them unmeaning or
impossible. Dogmas are but expedients, common to all great departments
of human thought, and felt in all to be necessary, for representing
what are believed as truths, for exhibiting their order and
consequences, for expressing the meaning of terms, and the relations of
thought. If they are wrong, they are, like everything else in the
world, open to be proved wrong; if they are inadequate, they are open
to correction; but it is idle to sneer at them for being what they must
be, if religious facts and truths are to be followed out by the
thoughts and expressed by the language of man. And what dogmas are in
unfriendly and incapable hands is no proof of what they may be when
they are approached as things instinct with truth and life; it is no
measure of the way in which they may be inextricably interwoven with
the most unquestionably living thought and feeling, as in these
sermons. Jealous, too, as the preacher is for Church doctrines as the
springs of Christian life, no writer of our time perhaps has so
emphatically and impressively recalled the narrow limits within which
human language can represent Divine realities. No one that we know of
shows that he has before his mind with such intense force and
distinctness the idea of God; and in proportion as a mind takes in and
submits itself to the impression of that awful vision, the gulf widens
between all possible human words and that which they attempt to
express:--

    When we have deduced what we deduce by our reason from the study of
    visible nature, and then read what we read in His inspired word,
    and find the two apparently discordant, _this_ is the feeling I
    think we ought to have on our minds;--not an impatience to do what
    is beyond our powers, to weigh evidence, sum up, balance, decide,
    reconcile, to arbitrate between the two voices of God,--but a sense
    of the utter nothingness of worms such as we are; of our plain and
    absolute incapacity to contemplate things _as they really are_; a
    perception of our emptiness before the great Vision of God; of our
    "comeliness being turned into corruption, and our retaining no
    strength"; a conviction that what is put before us, whether in
    nature or in grace, is but an intimation, useful for particular
    purposes, useful for practice, useful in its department, "until the
    day break and the shadows flee away"; useful in such a way that
    both the one and the other representation may at once be used, as
    two languages, as two separate approximations towards the Awful
    Unknown Truth, such as will not mislead us in their respective
    provinces.--Vol. II. Serm. XVIII.

    "I cannot persuade myself," he says, commenting on a mysterious
    text of Scripture, "thus to dismiss so solemn a passage" (i.e. by
    saying that it is "all figurative"). "It seems a presumption to say
    of dim notices about the unseen world, 'they only mean this or
    that,' as if one had ascended into the third heaven, or had stood
    before the throne of God. No; I see herein a deep mystery, a hidden
    truth, which I cannot handle or define, shining 'as jewels at the
    bottom of the great deep,' darkly and tremulously, yet really
    there. And for this very reason, while it is neither pious nor
    thankful to explain away the words which convey it, while it is a
    duty to use them, not less a duty is it to use them humbly,
    diffidently, and teachably, with the thought of God before us, and
    of our own nothingness."--Vol. III. Serm. XXV.

There are two great requisites for treating properly the momentous
questions and issues which have been brought before our generation. The
first is accuracy--accuracy of facts, of terms, of reasoning; plain
close dealing with questions in their real and actual conditions;
clear, simple, honest, measured statements about things as we find
them. The other is elevation, breadth, range of thought; a due sense of
what these questions mean and involve; a power of looking at things
from a height; a sufficient taking into account of possibilities, of
our ignorance, of the real proportions of things. We have plenty of the
first; we are for the most part lamentably deficient in the second. And
of this, these sermons are, to those who have studied them, almost
unequalled examples. Many people, no doubt, would rise from their
perusal profoundly disagreeing with their teaching; but no one, it
seems to us, could rise from them--with their strong effortless
freedom, their lofty purpose, their generous standard, their deep and
governing appreciation of divine things, their thoroughness, their
unselfishness, their purity, their austere yet piercing sympathy--and
not feel his whole ways of thinking about religion permanently enlarged
and raised. He will feel that he has been with one who "told him what
he knew about himself and what he did not know; has read to him his
wants or feelings, and comforted him by the very reading; has made him
feel that there was a higher life than this life, and a brighter world
than we can see; has encouraged him, or sobered him, or opened a way to
the inquiring, or soothed the perplexed." They show a man who saw very
deeply into the thought of his time, and who, if he partly recoiled
from it and put it back, at least equally shared it. Dr. Newman has
been accused of being out of sympathy with his age, and of disparaging
it. In reality, no one has proved himself more keenly sensitive to its
greatness and its wonders; only he believed that he saw something
greater still. We are not of those who can accept the solution which he
has accepted of the great problems which haunt our society; but he saw
better than most men what those problems demand, and the variety of
their often conflicting conditions. Other men, perhaps, have succeeded
better in what they aimed at; but no one has attempted more, with
powers and disinterestedness which justified him in attempting it. The
movement which he led, and of which these sermons are the
characteristic monument, is said to be a failure; but there are
failures, and even mistakes, which are worth many successes of other
sorts, and which are more fruitful and permanent in their effects.



XXIX

CARDINAL NEWMAN[33]


  [33]
  _Guardian_, 21st May 1879.

It is not wonderful that people should be impressed by the vicissitudes
and surprises and dramatic completeness of Cardinal Newman's career.
It is not wonderful that he should be impressed by this himself. That
he who left us in despair and indignation in 1845 should have passed
through a course of things which has made him, Roman Catholic as he
is, a man of whom Englishmen are so proud in 1879, is even more
extraordinary than that the former Fellow of Oriel should now be
surrounded with the pomp and state of a Cardinal. There is only one
other career in our time which, with the greatest possible contrasts in
other points, suggests in its strangeness and antecedent improbabilities
something of a parallel. It is the train of events which has made
"Disraeli the Younger" the most powerful Minister whom England has seen
in recent years. But Lord Beaconsfield has aimed at what he has
attained to, and has fought his way to it through the chances and
struggles of a stirring public life. Cardinal Newman's life has been
from first to last the life of the student and recluse. He has lived in
the shade. He has sought nothing for himself. He has shrunk from the
thought of advancement. The steps to the high places of the world have
not offered themselves to him, and he has been content to be let alone.
Early in his course his rare gifts of mind, his force of character, his
power over hearts and sympathies, made him for a while a prominent
person. Then came a series of events which seemed to throw him out of
harmony with the great mass of his countrymen. He appeared to be, if not
forgotten, yet not thought of, except by a small number of friends--old
friends who had known him too well and too closely ever to forget, and
new friends gathered round him by the later circumstances of his life
and work. People spoke of him as a man who had made a great mistake and
failed; who had thrown up influence and usefulness here, and had not
found it there; too subtle, too imaginative for England, too
independent for Rome. He seemed to have so sunk out of interest and
account that off-hand critics, in the easy gaiety of their heart, might
take liberties with his name.

Then came the first surprise. The _Apologia_ was read with the keenest
interest by those who most differed from the writer's practical
conclusions; twenty years had elapsed since he had taken the unpopular
step which seemed to condemn him to obscurity; and now he emerged from
it, challenging not in vain the sympathy of his countrymen. They
awoke, it may be said--at least the younger generation of them--to
what he really was; the old jars and bitternesses had passed out of
remembrance; they only felt that they had one among them who could
write--for few of them ever heard his wonderful voice--in a way which
made English hearts respond quickly and warmly. And the strange thing
was that the professed, the persistent denouncer of Liberalism, was
welcomed back to his rightful place among Englishmen by none more
warmly than by many Liberals. Still, though his name was growing more
familiar year by year, the world did not see much more of him. The
head of a religious company, of an educational institution at
Birmingham, he lived in unpretending and quiet simplicity, occupied
with the daily business of his house, with his books, with his
correspondence, with finishing off his many literary and theological
undertakings. Except in some chance reference in a book or newspaper
which implied how considerable a person the world thought him, he was
not heard of. People asked about him, but there was nothing to tell.
Then at last, neglected by Pius IX., he was remembered by Leo XIII.
The Pope offered him the Cardinalship, he said, because he thought it
would be "grateful to the Catholics of England, and to England
itself." And he was not mistaken. Probably there is not a single thing
that the Pope could do which would be so heartily welcomed.

After breaking with England and all things English in wrath and sorrow,
nearly thirty-five years ago, after a long life of modest retirement,
unmarked by any public honours, at length before he dies Dr. Newman is
recognised by Protestant England as one of its greatest men. It watches
with interest his journey to Rome, his proceedings at Rome. In a crowd
of new Cardinals--men of eminence in their own communion--he is the
only one about whom Englishmen know or care anything. His words, when
he speaks, pass _verbatim_ along the telegraph wires, like the words of
the men who sway the world. We read of the quiet Oxford scholar's arms
emblazoned on vestment and furniture as those of a Prince of the
Church, and of his motto--_Cor ad cor loquitur_. In that motto is the
secret of all that he is to his countrymen. For that skill of which he
is such a master, in the use of his and their "sweet mother tongue," is
something much more than literary accomplishment and power. It means
that he has the key to what is deepest in their nature and most
characteristic in them of feeling and conviction--to what is deeper
than opinions and theories and party divisions; to what in their most
solemn moments they most value and most believe in.

His profound sympathy with the religiousness which still, with all the
variations and all the immense shortcomings of English religion, marks
England above all cultivated Christian nations, is really the bond
between him and his countrymen, who yet for the most part think so
differently from him, both about the speculative grounds and many of
the practical details of religion. But it was natural for him, on an
occasion like this, reviewing the past and connecting it with the
present, to dwell on these differences. He repeated once more, and
made it the keynote of his address, his old protest against
"Liberalism in religion," the "doctrine that there is no positive
truth in religion, but one creed is as good as another." He lamented
the decay of the power of authority, the disappearance of religion
from the sphere of political influence, from education, from
legislation. He deplored the increasing impossibility of getting men
to work together on a common religious basis. He pointed out the
increasing seriousness and earnestness of the attempts to "supersede,
to block out religion," by an imposing and high morality, claiming to
dispense with it.

He dwelt on the mischief and dangers; he expressed, as any Christian
would, his fearlessness and faith in spite of them; but do we gather,
even from such a speaker, and on such an occasion, anything of the
remedy? The principle of authority is shaken, he tells us; what can he
suggest to restore it? He under-estimates, probably, the part which
authority plays, implicitly yet very really, in English popular
religion, much more in English Church religion; and authority, even in
Rome, is not everything, and does not reach to every subject. But
authority in our days can be nothing without real confidence in it;
and where confidence in authority has been lost, it is idle to attempt
to restore it by telling men that authority is a good and necessary
thing. It must be won back, not simply claimed. It must be regained,
when forfeited, by the means by which it was originally gained. And
the strange phenomenon was obviously present to his clear and candid
mind, though he treated it as one which is disappearing, and must at
length pass away, that precisely here in England, where the only
religious authority he recognises has been thrown off, the hold of
religion on public interest is most effective and most obstinately
tenacious.

What is the history of this? What is the explanation of it? Why is it
that where "authority," as he understands it, has been longest
paramount and undisputed, the public place and public force of
religion have most disappeared; and that a "dozen men taken at random
in the streets" of London find it easier, with all their various
sects, to work together on a religious basis than a dozen men taken at
random from the streets of Catholic Paris or Rome? Indeed, the public
feeling towards himself, expressed in so many ways in the last few
weeks, might suggest a question not undeserving of his thoughts. The
mass of Englishmen are notoriously anti-Popish and anti-Roman. Their
antipathies on this subject are profound, and not always reasonable.
They certainly do not here halt between two opinions, or think that
one creed is as good as another. What is it which has made so many of
them, still retaining all their intense dislike to the system which
Cardinal Newman has accepted, yet welcome so heartily his honours in
it, notwithstanding that he has passed from England to Rome, and that
he owes so much of what he is to England? Is it that they think it
does not matter what a man believes, and whether a man turns Papist?
Or is it not that, in spite of all that would repel and estrange, in
spite of the oppositions of argument and the inconsistencies of
speculation, they can afford to recognise in him, as in a high
example, what they most sincerely believe in and most deeply prize,
and can pay him the tribute of their gratitude and honour, even when
unconvinced by his controversial reasonings, and unsatisfied by the
theories which he has proposed to explain the perplexing and
refractory anomalies of Church history? Is it not that with history,
inexorable and unalterable behind them, condemning and justifying,
supporting and warning all sides in turn, thoughtful men feel how much
easier it is to point out and deplore our disasters than to see a way
now to set them right? Is it not also that there are in the Christian
Church bonds of affinity, subtler, more real and more prevailing than
even the fatal legacies of the great schisms? Is it not that the
sympathies which unite the author of the _Parochial Sermons_ and the
interpreter of St. Athanasius with the disciples of Andrewes, and Ken,
and Bull, of Butler and Wilson, are as strong and natural as the
barriers which outwardly keep them asunder are to human eyes
hopelessly insurmountable?



XXX

CARDINAL NEWMAN'S COURSE[34]


  [34]
  _Guardian_, 13th August 1890.

The long life is closed. And men, according to their knowledge and
intelligence, turn to seek for some governing idea or aspect of things,
by which to interpret the movements and changes of a course which, in
spite of its great changes, is felt at bottom to have been a uniform
and consistent one. For it seems that, at starting, he is at once
intolerant, even to harshness, to the Roman Church, and tolerant,
though not sympathetic, to the English; then the parts are reversed,
and he is intolerant to the English and tolerant to the Roman; and then
at last, when he finally anchored in the Roman Church, he is seen
as--not tolerant, for that would involve dogmatic points on which he
was most jealous, but--sympathetic in all that was of interest to
England, and ready to recognise what was good and high in the English
Church.

Is not the ultimate key to Newman's history his keen and profound sense
of the life, society, and principles of action presented in the New
Testament? To this New Testament life he saw, opposed and in contrast,
the ways and assumptions of English life, religious as well as secular.
He saw that the organisation of society had been carried, and was still
being carried, to great and wonderful perfection; only it was the
perfection of a society and way of life adapted to the present world,
and having its ends here; only it was as different as anything can be
from the picture which the writers of the New Testament, consciously
and unconsciously, give of themselves and their friends. Here was a
Church, a religion, a "Christian nation," professing to be identical in
spirit and rules of faith and conduct with the Church and religion of
the Gospels and Epistles; and what was the identity, beyond certain
phrases and conventional suppositions? He could not see a trace in
English society of that simple and severe hold of the unseen and the
future which is the colour and breath, as well as the outward form, of
the New Testament life. Nothing could be more perfect, nothing grander
and nobler, than all the current arrangements for this life; its
justice and order and increasing gentleness, its widening sympathies
between men; but it was all for the perfection and improvement of this
life; it would all go on, if what we experience now was our only scene
and destiny. This perpetual antithesis haunted him, when he knew it, or
when he did not. Against it the Church ought to be the perpetual
protest, and the fearless challenge, as it was in the days of the New
Testament. But the English Church had drunk in, he held, too deeply the
temper, ideas, and laws of an ambitious and advancing civilisation; so
much so as to be unfaithful to its special charge and mission. The
prophet had ceased to rebuke, warn, and suffer; he had thrown in his
lot with those who had ceased to be cruel and inhuman, but who thought
only of making their dwelling-place as secure and happy as they could.
The Church had become respectable, comfortable, sensible, temperate,
liberal; jealous about the forms of its creeds, equally jealous of its
secular rights, interested in the discussion of subordinate questions,
and becoming more and more tolerant of differences; ready for works of
benevolence and large charity, in sympathy with the agricultural poor,
open-handed in its gifts; a willing fellow-worker with society in
kindly deeds, and its accomplice in secularity. All this was admirable,
but it was not the life of the New Testament, and it was _that_ which
filled his thoughts. The English Church had exchanged religion for
civilisation, the first century for the nineteenth, the New Testament
as it is written, for a counterfeit of it interpreted by Paley or Mr.
Simeon; and it seemed to have betrayed its trust.

Form after form was tried by him, the Christianity of Evangelicalism,
the Christianity of Whately, the Christianity of Hawkins, the
Christianity of Keble and Pusey; it was all very well, but it was not
the Christianity of the New Testament and of the first ages. He wrote
the _Church of the Fathers_ to show they were not merely evidences of
religion, but really living men; that they could and did live as they
taught, and what was there like the New Testament or even the first
ages now? Alas! there was nothing completely like them; but of all
unlike things, the Church of England with its "smug parsons," and
pony-carriages for their wives and daughters, seemed to him the most
unlike: more unlike than the great unreformed Roman Church, with its
strange, unscriptural doctrines and its undeniable crimes, and its
alliance, wherever it could, with the world. But at least the Roman
Church had not only preserved, but maintained at full strength through
the centuries to our day two things of which the New Testament was
full, and which are characteristic of it--devotion and self-sacrifice.
The crowds at a pilgrimage, a shrine, or a "pardon" were much more like
the multitudes who followed our Lord about the hills of Galilee--like
them probably in that imperfect faith which we call superstition--than
anything that could be seen in the English Church, even if the
Salvation Army were one of its instruments. And the spirit which
governed the Roman Church had prevailed on men to make the sacrifice of
celibacy a matter of course, as a condition of ministering in a regular
and systematic way not only to the souls, but to the bodies of men, not
only for the Priesthood, but for educational Brotherhoods, and Sisters
of the poor and of hospitals. Devotion and sacrifice, prayer and
self-denying charity, in one word sanctity, are at once on the surface
of the New Testament and interwoven with all its substance. He recoiled
from a representation of the religion of the New Testament which to his
eye was without them. He turned to where, in spite of every other
disadvantage, he thought he found them. In S. Filippo Neri he could
find a link between the New Testament and progressive civilisation. He
could find no S. Filippo--so modern and yet so Scriptural--when he
sought at home.

His mind, naturally alive to all greatness, had early been impressed
with the greatness of the Church of Rome. But in his early days it was
the greatness of Anti-Christ. Then came the change, and his sense of
greatness was satisfied by the commanding and undoubting attitude of
the Roman system, by the completeness of its theory, by the sweep of
its claims and its rule, by the even march of its vast administration.
It could not and it did not escape him, that the Roman Church, with all
the good things which it had, was, as a whole, as unlike the Church of
the New Testament and of the first ages as the English. He recognised
it frankly, and built up a great theory to account for the fact,
incorporating and modernising great portions of the received Roman
explanations of the fact. But what won his heart and his enthusiasm was
one thing; what justified itself to his intellect was another. And it
was the reproduction, partial, as it might be, yet real and
characteristic, in the Roman Church of the life and ways of the New
Testament, which was the irresistible attraction that tore him from the
associations and the affections of half a lifetime.

The final break with the English Church was with much heat and
bitterness; and both sides knew too much each of the other to warrant
the language used on each side. The English Church had received too
much loyal and invaluable service from him in teaching and example to
have insulted him, as many of its chief authorities did, with the
charges of dishonesty and bad faith; his persecutors forgot that a
little effort on his part might, if he had been what they called him,
and had really been a traitor, have formed a large and compact party,
whose secession might have caused fatal damage. And he, too, knew too
much of the better side of English religious life to justify the fierce
invective and sarcasm with which he assailed for a time the English
Church as a mere system of comfortable and self-deceiving worldliness.

But as time went over him in his new position two things made
themselves felt. One was, that though there was a New Testament life,
lived in the Roman Church with conspicuous truth and reality, yet the
Roman Church, like the English, was administered and governed by
men--men with passions and faults, men of mixed characters--who had,
like their English contemporaries and rivals, ends and rules of action
not exactly like those of the New Testament. The Roman Church had to
accept, as much as the English, the modern conditions of social and
political life, however different in outward look from those of the
Sermon on the Mount. The other was the increasing sense that the
civilisation of the West was as a whole, and notwithstanding grievous
drawbacks, part of God's providential government, a noble and
beneficent thing, ministering graciously to man's peace and order,
which Christians ought to recognise as a blessing of their times such
as their fathers had not, for which they ought to be thankful, and
which, if they were wise, they would put to what, in his phrase, was an
"Apostolical" use. In one of the angelical hymns in the _Dream of
Gerontius_, he dwells on the Divine goodness which led men to found "a
household and a fatherland, a city and a state" with an earnestness of
sympathy, recalling the enumeration of the achievements of human
thought and hand, and the arts of civil and social life--[Greek: kai
phthegma kai aenemoen phronaema kai astynomous orgas]--dwelt on so
fondly by Aeschylus and Sophocles.

The force with which these two things made themselves felt as age came
on--the disappointments attending his service to the Church, and the
grandeur of the physical and social order of the world and its Divine
sanction in spite of all that is evil and all that is so shortlived in
it--produced a softening in his ways of thought and speech. Never for a
moment did his loyalty and obedience to his Church, even when most
tried, waver and falter. The thing is inconceivable to any one who ever
knew him, and the mere suggestion would be enough to make him blaze
forth in all his old fierceness and power. But perfectly satisfied of
his position, and with his duties clearly defined, he could allow large
and increasing play, in the leisure of advancing age, to his natural
sympathies, and to the effect of the wonderful spectacle of the world
around him. He was, after all, an Englishman; and with all his
quickness to detect and denounce what was selfish and poor in English
ideas and action, and with all the strength of his deep antipathies,
his chief interests were for things English--English literature,
English social life, English politics, English religion. He liked to
identify himself, as far as it was possible, with things English, even
with things that belonged to his own first days. He republished his
Oxford sermons and treatises. He prized his honorary fellowship at
Trinity; he enjoyed his visit to Oxford, and the welcome which he met
there. He discerned how much the English Church counted for in the
fight going on in England for the faith in Christ. There was in all
that he said and did a gentleness, a forbearance, a kindly
friendliness, a warm recognition of the honour paid him by his
countrymen, ever since the _Apologia_ had broken down the prejudices
which had prevented Englishmen from doing him justice. As with his
chief antagonist at Oxford, Dr. Hawkins, advancing years brought with
them increasing gentleness, and generosity, and courtesy. But through
all this there was perceptible to those who watched a pathetic yearning
for something which was not to be had: a sense, resigned--for so it was
ordered--but deep and piercing, how far, not some of us, but all of us,
are from the life of the New Testament: how much there is for religion
to do, and how little there seems to be to do it.



XXXI

CARDINAL NEWMAN'S NATURALNESS[35]


  [35]
  _Guardian_, 20th August 1890.

Every one feels what is meant when we speak of a person's ways being
"natural," in contrast to being artificial, or overstrained, or
studied, or affected. But it is easier to feel what is meant than to
explain and define it. We sometimes speak as if it were a mere quality
of manner; as if it belonged to the outside show of things, and denoted
the atmosphere, clear and transparent, through which they are viewed.
It corresponds to what is lucid in talk and style, and what ethically
is straightforward and unpretentious. But it is something much more
than a mere surface quality. When it is real and part of the whole
character, and not put on from time to time for effect, it reaches a
long way down to what is deepest and most significant in a man's moral
nature. It is connected with the sense of truth, with honest
self-judgment, with habits of self-discipline, with the repression of
vanity, pride, egotism. It has no doubt to do with good taste and good
manners, but it has as much to do with good morals--with the resolute
habit of veracity with oneself--with the obstinate preference for
reality over show, however tempting--with the wholesome power of being
able to think little about oneself.

It is common to speak of the naturalness and ease of Cardinal Newman's
style in writing. It is, of course, the first thing that attracts
notice when we open one of his books; and there are people who think it
bald and thin and dry. They look out for longer words, and grander
phrases, and more involved constructions, and neater epigrams. They
expect a great theme to be treated with more pomp and majesty, and they
are disappointed. But the majority of English readers seem to be agreed
in recognising the beauty and transparent flow of his language, which
matches the best French writing in rendering with sureness and without
effort the thought of the writer. But what is more interesting than
even the formation of such a style--a work, we may be sure, not
accomplished without much labour--is the man behind the style. For the
man and the style are one in this perfect naturalness and ease. Any one
who has watched at all carefully the Cardinal's career, whether in old
days or later, must have been struck with this feature of his
character, his naturalness, the freshness and freedom with which he
addressed a friend or expressed an opinion, the absence of all
mannerism and formality; and, where he had to keep his dignity, both
his loyal obedience to the authority which enjoined it and the
half-amused, half-bored impatience that he should be the person round
whom all these grand doings centred. It made the greatest difference in
his friendships whether his friends met him on equal terms, or whether
they brought with them too great conventional deference or solemnity of
manner. "So and so is a very good fellow, but he is not a man to talk
to in your shirt sleeves," was his phrase about an over-logical and
over-literal friend. Quite aware of what he was to his friends and to
the things with which he was connected, and ready with a certain
quickness of temper which marked him in old days to resent anything
unbecoming done to his cause or those connected with it, he would not
allow any homage to be paid to himself. He was by no means disposed to
allow liberties to be taken or to put up with impertinence; for all
that bordered on the unreal, for all that was pompous, conceited,
affected, he had little patience; but almost beyond all these was his
disgust at being made the object of foolish admiration. He protested
with whimsical fierceness against being made a hero or a sage; he was
what he was, he said, and nothing more; and he was inclined to be rude
when people tried to force him into an eminence which he refused. With
his profound sense of the incomplete and the ridiculous in this world,
and with a humour in which the grotesque and the pathetic sides of life
were together recognised at every moment, he never hesitated to admit
his own mistakes--his "floors" as he called them. All this ease and
frankness with those whom he trusted, which was one of the lessons
which he learnt from Hurrell Froude, an intercourse which implied a
good deal of give and take--all this satisfied his love of freedom, his
sense of the real. It was his delight to give himself free play with
those whom he could trust; to feel that he could talk with "open
heart," understood without explaining, appealing for a response which
would not fail, though it was not heard. He could be stiff enough with
those who he thought were acting a part, or pretending to more than
they could perform. But he believed--what was not very easy to believe
beforehand--that he could win the sympathy of his countrymen, though
not their agreement with him; and so, with characteristic naturalness
and freshness, he wrote the _Apologia_.



XXXII

LORD BLACHFORD[36]


  [36]
  _Guardian_, 27th Nov. 1889.

Lord Blachford, whose death was announced last week, belonged to a
generation of Oxford men of whom few now survive, and who, of very
different characters and with very different careers and histories, had
more in common than any set of contemporaries at Oxford since their
time. Speaking roughly, they were almost the last product of the old
training at public school and at college, before the new reforms set
in; of a training confessedly imperfect and in some ways deplorably
defective, but with considerable elements in it of strength and
manliness, with keen instincts of contempt for all that savoured of
affectation and hollowness, and with a sort of largeness and freedom
about it, both in its outlook and its discipline, which suited vigorous
and self-reliant natures in an exciting time, when debate ran high and
the gravest issues seemed to be presenting themselves to English
society. The reformed system which has taken its place at Oxford
criticises, not without some justice, the limitations of the older one;
the narrow range of its interests, the few books which men read, and
the minuteness with which they were "got up." But if these men did not
learn all that a University ought to teach its students, they at least
learned two things. They learned to work hard, and they learned to make
full use of what they knew. They framed an ideal of practical life,
which was very variously acted upon, but which at any rate aimed at
breadth of grasp and generosity of purpose, and at being thorough. This
knot of men, who lived a good deal together, were recognised at the
time as young men of much promise, and they looked forward to life with
eagerness and high aspiration. They have fulfilled their promise; their
names are mixed up with all the recent history of England; they have
filled its great places and governed its policy during a large part of
the Queen's long reign. Their names are now for the most part things of
the past--Sidney Herbert, Lord Canning, Lord Dalhousie, Lord Elgin,
Lord Cardwell, the Wilberforces, Mr. Hope Scott, Archbishop Tait. But
they still have their representatives among us--Mr. Gladstone, Lord
Selborne, Lord Sherbrooke, Sir Thomas Acland, Cardinal Manning. It is
not often that a University generation or two can produce such a list
of names of statesmen and rulers; and the list might easily be
enlarged.

To this generation Frederic Rogers belonged, not the least
distinguished among his contemporaries; and he was early brought under
an influence likely to stimulate in a high degree whatever powers a man
possessed, and to impress a strong character with elevated and enduring
ideas of life and duty. Mr. Newman, with Mr. Hurrell Froude and Mr.
Robert Wilberforce, had recently been appointed tutors of their college
by Dr. Copleston. They were in the first eagerness of their enthusiasm
to do great things with the college, and the story goes that Mr.
Newman, on the look-out for promising pupils, wrote to an Eton friend,
asking him to recommend some good Eton men for admission at Oriel.
Frederic Rogers, so the story goes, was one of those mentioned; at any
rate, he entered at Oriel, and became acquainted with Mr. Newman as a
tutor, and the admiration and attachment of the undergraduate ripened
into the most unreserved and affectionate friendship of the grown
man--a friendship which has lasted through all storms and difficulties,
and through strong differences of opinion, till death only has ended
it. From Mr. Newman his pupil caught that earnest devotion to the cause
of the Church which was supreme with him through life. He entered
heartily into Mr. Newman's purpose to lift the level of the English
Church and its clergy. While Mr. Newman at Oxford was fighting the
battle of the English Church, there was no one who was a closer friend
than Rogers, no one in whom Mr. Newman had such trust, none whose
judgment he so valued, no one in whose companionship he so delighted;
and the master's friendship was returned by the disciple with a noble
and tender, and yet manly honesty. There came, as we know, times which
strained even that friendship; when the disciple, just at the moment
when the master most needed and longed for sympathy and counsel, had to
choose between his duty to his Church and the claims and ties of
friendship. He could not follow in the course which his master and
friend had found inevitable; and that deepest and most delightful
friendship had to be given up. But it was given up, not indeed without
great suffering on both sides, but without bitterness or unworthy
thoughts. The friend had seen too closely the greatness and purity of
his master's character to fail in tenderness and loyalty, even when he
thought his master going most wrong. He recognised that the error,
deplorable as he thought it, was the mistake of a lofty and unselfish
soul; and in the height of the popular outcry against him he came
forward, with a distant and touching reverence, to take his old
friend's part and rebuke the clamour. And at length the time came when
disagreements were left long behind and each person had finally taken
his recognised place; and then the old ties were knit up again. It
could not be the former friendship of every day and of absolute and
unreserved confidence. But it was the old friendship of affection and
respect renewed, and pleasure in the interchange of thoughts. It was a
friendship of the antique type, more common, perhaps, even in the last
century than with us, but enriched with Christian hopes and Christian
convictions.

Lord Blachford, in spite of his brilliant Oxford reputation, and though
he was a singularly vigorous writer, with wide interests and very
independent thought, has left nothing behind him in the way of
literature. This was partly because he very early became a man of
affairs; partly that his health interfered with habits of study. It
used to be told at Oxford that when he was working for his Double First
he could scarcely use his eyes, and had to learn much of his work by
being read to. The result was that he was not a great reader; and a man
ought to be a reader who is to be a writer. But, besides this, there
was a strongly marked feature in his character which told in the same
direction. There was a curious modesty about him which formed a
contrast with other points; with a readiness and even eagerness to put
forth and develop his thoughts on matters that interested him, with a
perfect consciousness of his remarkable powers of statement and
argument, with a constitutional impetuosity blended with caution which
showed itself when anything appealed to his deeper feelings or called
for his help; yet with all these impelling elements, his instinct was
always to shrink from putting himself forward, except when it was a
matter of duty. He accepted recognition when it came, but he never
claimed it. And this reserve, which marked his social life, kept him
back from saying in a permanent form much that he had to say, and that
was really worth saying. Like many of the distinguished men of his day,
he was occasionally a journalist. We have been reminded by the _Times_
that he at one time wrote for that paper. And he was one of the men to
whose confidence and hope in the English Church the _Guardian_ owes its
existence.

His life was the uneventful one of a diligent and laborious public
servant, and then of a landlord keenly alive to the responsibilities of
his position. He passed through various subordinate public employments,
and finally succeeded Mr. Herman Merivale as permanent Under-Secretary
for the Colonies. It is a great post, but one of which the work is done
for the most part out of sight. Colonial Secretaries in Parliament come
and go, and have the credit, often quite justly, of this or that
policy. But the public know little of the permanent official who keeps
the traditions and experience of the department, whose judgment is
always an element, often a preponderating element, in eventful
decisions, and whose pen drafts the despatches which go forth in the
name of the Government. Sir Frederic Rogers, as he became in time, had
to deal with some of the most serious colonial questions which arose
and were settled while he was at the Colonial Office. He took great
pains, among other things, to remove, or at least diminish, the
difficulties which beset the _status_ of the Colonial Church and
clergy, and to put its relations to the Church at home on a just and
reasonable footing. There is a general agreement as to the industry and
conspicuous ability with which his part of the work was done. Mr.
Gladstone set an admirable example in recognising in an unexpected way
faithful but unnoticed services, and at the same time paid a merited
honour to the permanent staff of the public offices, when he named Sir
Frederic Rogers for a peerage.

Lord Blachford, for so he became on his retirement from the Colonial
Office, cannot be said to have quitted entirely public life, as he
always, while his strength lasted, acknowledged public claims on his
time and industry. He took his part in two or three laborious
Commissions, doing the same kind of valuable yet unseen work which he
had done in office, guarding against blunders, or retrieving them,
giving direction and purpose to inquiries, suggesting expedients. But
his main employment was now at his own home. He came late in life to
the position of a landed proprietor, and he at once set before himself
as his object the endeavour to make his estate as perfect as it could
be made--perfect in the way in which a naturally beautiful country and
his own good taste invited him to make it, but beyond all, as perfect
as might be, viewed as the dwelling-place of his tenants and the
labouring poor. A keen and admiring student of political economy, his
sympathies were always with the poor. He was always ready to challenge
assumptions, such as are often loosely made for the convenience of the
well-to-do. The solicitude which always pursued him was the thought of
his cottages, and it was not satisfied till the last had been put in
good order. The same spirit prompted him to allow labourers who could
manage the undertaking to rent pasture for a few cows; and the
experiment, he thought, had succeeded. The idea of justice and the
general welfare had too strong a hold on his mind to allow him to be
sentimental in dealing with the difficult questions connected with
land. But if his labourers found him thoughtful of their comfort his
farmers found him a good landlord--strict where he met with dishonesty
and carelessness, but open-minded and reasonable in understanding their
points of view, and frank, equitable, and liberal in meeting their
wishes. Disclaiming all experience of country matters, and not minding
if he fell into some mistakes, he made his care of his estate a model
of the way in which a good man should discharge his duties to the land.

His was one of those natures which have the gift of inspiring
confidence in all who come near him; all who had to do with him felt
that they could absolutely trust him. The quality which was at the
bottom of his character as a man was his unswerving truthfulness; but
upon this was built up a singularly varied combination of elements not
often brought together, and seldom in such vigour and activity. Keen,
rapid, penetrating, he was quick in detecting anything that rung hollow
in language or feeling; and he did not care to conceal his dislike and
contempt. But no one threw himself with more genuine sympathy into the
real interests of other people. No matter what it was, ethical or
political theory, the course of a controversy, the arrangement of a
trust-deed, the oddities of a character, the marvels of natural
science, he was always ready to go with his companion as far as he
chose to go, and to take as much trouble as if the question started had
been his own. Where his sense of truth was not wounded he was most
considerate and indulgent; he seemed to keep through life his
schoolboy's amused tolerance for mischief that was not vicious. No one
entered more heartily into the absurdities of a grotesque situation; of
no one could his friends be so sure that he would miss no point of a
good story; and no one took in at once more completely or with deeper
feeling the full significance of some dangerous incident in public
affairs, or discerned more clearly the real drift of confused and
ambiguous tendencies. He was conscious of the power of his intellect,
and he liked to bring it to bear on what was before him; he liked to
probe things to the bottom, and see how far his companion in
conversation was able to go; but ready as he was with either argument
or banter he never, unless provoked, forced the proof of his power on
others. For others, indeed, of all classes and characters, so that they
were true, he had nothing but kindness, geniality, forbearance, the
ready willingness to meet them on equal terms. Those who had the
privilege of his friendship remember how they were kept up in their
standard and measure of duty by the consciousness of his opinion, his
judgment, his eagerness to feel with them, his fearless, though it
might be reluctant, expression of disagreement It was, indeed, that
very marked yet most harmonious combination of severity and tenderness
which gave such interest to his character. A strong love of justice, a
deep and unselfish and affectionate gentleness and patience, are
happily qualities not too rare. But to have known one at once so
severely just and so indulgently tender and affectionate makes a mark
in a man's life which he forgets at his peril.


THE END


_Printed by_ R. & R. Clark, Limited, _Edinburgh_.





*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Occasional Papers - Selected from the Guardian,  the Times, and the Saturday Review, - 1846-1890" ***

Doctrine Publishing Corporation provides digitized public domain materials.
Public domain books belong to the public and we are merely their custodians.
This effort is time consuming and expensive, so in order to keep providing
this resource, we have taken steps to prevent abuse by commercial parties,
including placing technical restrictions on automated querying.

We also ask that you:

+ Make non-commercial use of the files We designed Doctrine Publishing
Corporation's ISYS search for use by individuals, and we request that you
use these files for personal, non-commercial purposes.

+ Refrain from automated querying Do not send automated queries of any sort
to Doctrine Publishing's system: If you are conducting research on machine
translation, optical character recognition or other areas where access to a
large amount of text is helpful, please contact us. We encourage the use of
public domain materials for these purposes and may be able to help.

+ Keep it legal -  Whatever your use, remember that you are responsible for
ensuring that what you are doing is legal. Do not assume that just because
we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States,
that the work is also in the public domain for users in other countries.
Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we
can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of any specific book is
allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Doctrine Publishing
ISYS search  means it can be used in any manner anywhere in the world.
Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe.

About ISYS® Search Software
Established in 1988, ISYS Search Software is a global supplier of enterprise
search solutions for business and government.  The company's award-winning
software suite offers a broad range of search, navigation and discovery
solutions for desktop search, intranet search, SharePoint search and embedded
search applications.  ISYS has been deployed by thousands of organizations
operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law
enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.



Home