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in the different Governments to the various degrees of civilization. The despotism of the Czar suits the ignorant Russian, while Republicanism best suits the intelligent Anglo-Saxon in North America; and what will surprise him much will be the large common ground which is occupied by Government both in Russia and America. In like manner the Episcopal and Presbyterian polity, the rudimentary Church-life of the Bible Christians, and the preeminently elaborate system of Wesley, cover a wide area of common ground, and serve as true channels for the varying requirements of Christian Society.
This leads us to observe further, that the differences among Christians are not owing entirely to varieties of thought among individual believers. Another cause has co-operated with this and served not a little to deepen and indurate these differences—we refer to the influence of ecclesiastical organisations. When large bodies of professed Christians associated themselves in churches, the framework of organisation that bound them together acquired an adventitious importance, and so questions of
Church polity came to get a degree of importance they do not hold in the Bible. The clergy attached to those bodies came, by the force of circumstances, to spend much of their time in defending their ecclesiastical systems, and in the heat of controversy the small points of difference were magnified into essentials, and the lines drawn deep and broad around each Church enclosure. The Episcopalian, to hold his own against the levelling system of the Presbyterian, had to develope a doctrine of Apostolical succession ; and the Puritan, to hold his ground against the Quaker and Antinomian, had to formulate a rigid and metaphysical confession of faith. The exigencies of ecclesiastical warfare widened the differences between Christian sects, just as those of political warfare deepened tire dislikes and dissimilarities between nations.
But we would ask those who assail the Bible, and with it the religion of Christ, on the ground of those dissensions, how they could possibly have been avoided in any revelation appealing to man as a moral and rational being ?. If Christ had merely established a system of ordinances, like Moses, it would have been possible to prevent differences and schisms among His followers, for any difficulty might have been solved by an appeal to the bare letter of the commandment; but such a system would not have been the school of education that Christianity is : the very disputes about the teaching of the Bible lead to a vigorous exercise of the moral and rational faculties, and conduct man to a higher spiritual manhood than a leaden system of outward uniformity could do. A torpid uniformity in the Christian Church would have meant spiritual death; it is that which the Ultramontane party in the Church of Rome aims at: it would quench the light of individual conscience, and condense all religion into a slavish submission to the Papal decrees, and we see what its effects have been in all countries that have submitted to its sway. The stifled intellect and conscience of man, after a long slumber, have burst their bonds, and, hating the very nanie of religion, have too often plunged into gross materialism. The constant ferment of religious opinion which the Bible is fitted to produce, and always will produce in any country where thought is free, is so far from being an objection against the Christian religion, that it is a proof of its divine origin. The Author of the human mind well knew that its faculties needed constant exercise to keep them bright, and that the doctrines of religion would take deepest root when they had to be received after diligent search, and defended with zeal; therefore He has seen it best to spread His truth in a large and free manner over the face of the Bible as He has spread plants and flowers over the face of nature, and there will be room in all time for theologians to classify and systematise the truths of the Bible, as there is room for botanists to group and arrange the herbs of the field; and we may add, to complete the parallel, that there will always be room for minor differences between the systems of different thinkers, while in their great outlines they will exhibit a substantial unity.
But it may be objected by some, that these arguments prove too much: if the Bible be indeed so inexact in its statements, and capable of being honestly interpreted in so many different ways, is there not danger that the inquirer may miss "the way of salvation ?” does it not throw a cloud of doubt about all theology, and indeed disparage the Sacred Volume, for if God has not spoken clearly, then Christianity loses half its sanctions ? There is no doubt that fears like these have led good men to claim for the Bible an exactness of definition it does not possess, and it has led the various schools of theology to fight for their special renderings with a vehemence that was only justified by the plea that they possessed the whole of the truth and that their opponents taught dangerous error. But we must guard ourselves from being misunderstood. We do not allege that the Bible speaks inexactly on the great truths that it is indispensable man should know : its voice is singularly clear and uniform on the essentials of religion. Man is ever represented as a sinner, and God as holy and just and good; the New Testament speaks habitually of Christ as the alone Mediator between God and man, and it holds no parley with the rejecter of Christ; it makes Him the Alpha and Omega of its teaching ; it is as far apart from mere Deism as it is possible to suppose; there is not a line in the New Testament that casts doubt on the death of Christ, His resurrection and