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among us; we find it in “every spirit that dissolveth Jesus.” 1
And if it be true that the rival hosts are marshalling now for the last great conflict, it gives to the controversies of the present a deeper and more solemn significance. I am far, of course, from forgetting how much there is in the religious temper of the day to encourage as well as to alarm us, distinguishing it most honourably from many former periods of Christian history. Our very scepticism is other than
We have little now of the coarse exultant blasphemy of Tom Paine and Voltaire; there is a tone of diffidence, almost of sadness, in avowedly infidel literature, and those who doubt seem loth, not eager, to disbelieve. They share the feeling expressed by our representative poet, of “an infant crying for the light.” One of the keenest observers of modern society has lately remarked that, what strikes him most prominently both in its religious and secular aspects is, on the one hand, the general sense of weariness and uncertainty, and on the other the grandeur and unexampled complexity of the problems which are pressing for solution. At the same time, a conscious or unconscious yearning for unity is gaining ground among those estranged by centuries of strife, and there is a growing conviction that the unprofitable bitterness of mere negative controversy is treason
| The Vulgate, following the Vat. MS., reads in 1 John iv. 3, "omnis spiritus qui solvit Jesum,” and thus the third verse supplies a further illustra- . tion of the statement in the second, instead of being merely a repetition of it.
? Preface to third series of Guizot's Meditations.
against the majesty of truth. Ours is an age of uncertain and conflicting tendencies, powerful alike for good or for evil, suggesting the gravest anxieties, yet brightened with the dawning promise of a second spring. One thing, at any rate, is clear enough—that we are on the eve of a crisis, such as for the last three centuries the Church has not witnessed. The Reformation was but the first act of a drama which has yet to be played out; and it may be expected that our own age will see questions stirred more searching even than any that were mooted then. Nullum tem . pus occurrit Ecclesiæ. But it is of the last importance that, at this supreme crisis of her history, her children should be closely united, and well equipped to meet the coming foe, not with the blunted or misshapen implements of a ruder warfare and a coarser age, but with weapons forged and polished fresh in the armoury of wisdom, of justice, and of truth. Once, in the iconoclastic controversy, Christian art and civilization sued for admission before the portals of the Eastern Church, and were rejected; and she sank for awhile into a sterile petrification of her former self. John of Damascus, in the eighth century, was her last theologian. The Renaissance stood before the gates of
| The existence of a 'deep and all-possessing desire for unity' is insisted on with startling emphasis in Mr. Maurice’s ‘Few Words on the Pope's Encyclical' in Macmillan's Magazine for Feb. 1865. See also Mr. Westcott's paper on Positivism in the Contemp. Rev. (July, 1868), already referred to, both on this point and on the principle of development, as inherent in the nature of Christianity.
Rome, and was admitted. The Reformation rent half Europe from her obedience, and resulted in the decrees of Trent. Science, philosophy, and criticism are knocking at our doors to-day. We must accept or reject them, and to reject their aid is to hand them over to the service of error. Now, as ever, the Church must go forth to conquer in the might of that Gospel which she, and she alone, is divinely commissioned to proclaim; but now too, as ever, like a good householder, she must bring forth from her treasures things old and new. At such a time the desire, which can never be far from the heart of an earnest believer, for the perfect fulfilment of the Redeemer's dying prayer is brought home to one with a peculiar urgency. To adopt the eloquent words of a great living prelate, we gaze on the face of Europe miserably divided by three centuries of theological strife into the hostile camps of her Catholic and her Protestant peoples. Yet the laws, the institutions, the habits of all alike, and the whole framework of their civil and social life, bear abiding witness to the Christianity they still profess in common; they are still alike ennobled by the indelible character of baptism imprinted on their brow." Would, indeed, that all who name the Name of Christ in sincerity might be once more united in prospect of a common danger round the altars of a common faith ! For this blessed consummation the loftiest intellects and the Saintliest souls are yearning with a passionate desire both within and without the limits of Catholic Communion. “At the bare thought of this vision of peace,” it has been touchingly said “the pulse quickens and the eyes fill with tears.” I have spoken elsewhere at length on the subject, and it must suffice only to refer to it here.' But none who honestly believe that the highest interests of the human race are bound up with the revelation of God, Incarnate and Crucified, can watch the course of events, or the tendencies both of religious and irreligious thought, without feeling a profound conviction, deepened by every year's fresh experience, of the supreme importance of visible union among Christians. For lack of it the action of dogmatic truth on the world is paralyzed, missionary energy is sorely crippled, there is weakness within, restlessness and uncertainty without the fold, and the moral condition of Christian countries and Christian capitals finds its parallel in the Rome of the later Empire and the cities which sank under the avenging flood of fire. Meanwhile, intellectual energies are frittered away on the barren labours of a controversial warfare between those who should be brethren, which under happier auspices might be combined in the common task of eliciting and exhibiting, in all its majestic harmony, the fulness of wisdom and of knowledge wrapped up in the living oracles of God. Truth, indeed, like Him whose voice she is, is one and indivisible, and knows, “in her deep self,” nothing
' Pastoral of the Archbp, of Paris. Lent, 1868.
“of transient form.” Yet the shadow varies, though the substance cannot change; the earthly reflection grows from age to age, but the Word of the Lord “endureth for ever in heaven.” The whole revelation of God, all spiritual truth that has been or shall be known on earth from the beginning to the day of doom, was latent from the first in the Church's spiritual consciousness, but it existed there as the universe, visible or invisible, existed before creation— an unbreathed music, an unspoken poetry, deep within the Heart of God. One by one, in their fulness and their detail, its manifold glories were to dawn on her inner apprehension, and become part of her organic life, as the stars are painted one by one on the darkening azure of the sunset sky. There can be no stint to her growing knowledge, no stay in the kindling path of her divine illumination, till the fires of Pentecost are quenched in the brightness of the everlasting sunshine. It may be said that all the articles of the creed are summed up in its opening clause, Credo in unum Deum, as all musical tones are summed up in the seven notes of the scale. His omnipotence is the origin of creation; the Incarnation, the Passion and the Eucharist are the expression of His boundless love; justification is the work of His wisdom; His mercy is the measure of our endless beatitude; His justice is revealed in the fiery chastisement of sin. And so it would scarcely be too much to say, that the whole circle of revealed truths is wrapped up in the very letter of the Scriptural record, but then that record