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simplicity of the evangelical narratives to the technical subtilties of the creeds. " To attribute,” says the greatest writer in the well-known volume of Essays and Reviews, “to St. Paul or the Twelve the abstract notion of Christian truth which afterwards sprung up in the Church, is the same sort of anachronism as to attribute to them a system of philosophy.” This may be true, in a sense, but when the same writer goes on to suggest that the ouooúolos of Nice was only a less misfortune to the Church than would have been caused by an opposite decision, and we are justly bidden to observe that the traditions of the first century, without any notion of development, are an insufficient basis for the theology of the nineteenth, we are practically reminded that the same scythe which lops off the doctrinal'innovations of Trent is ready to include in its ruthless sweep the definitions of Nicæa, and the Athanasian Creed. There are many, again, who would shrink from the extreme opinions of Strauss, but who desire with him to detach Christian morality from its basis in Christian dogma, and, in strange oblivion of the facts of human nature and the witness of history, expect that the flowers will continue to blossom when the root is dead. Nor let the mere Protestant, who cares nothing for creeds and controversies, console himself with the fond belief that, at any rate, the cause of
"An able sketch of the leading characteristics of the Tübingen School (suggested by the Colenso controversy) will be found in an article by M. Edmond Schærer, in the Revue des Deux Mondes, for March, 1863, entitled 'Confessions d'un Missionaire.'
Bible Christianity' is safe.' One of the most brilliant, if not the most profound, of living French writers, himself once a Catholic believer, has lately taught us how possible it is to accept nearly the whole framework of the Gospel narrative, while rejecting, without even the poor compliment of refutation, the Divinity of Him of whom the Gospel speaks, written though we had deemed it as with a sunbeam on every page. Another writer of the same nation, the greatest of living novelists, when describing his ideal of a Christian death-bed, makes his hero expire, gazing indeed on the crucifix, to remind him of the example of the Great Martyr,' but neglecting the sacraments, as neither appreciating the reality of guilt nor the need of atonement. A third has aspired to found not only a philosophy, but a religion and a Church, based on a negation of theism, and of the future life, and has found
among our own countrymen some of the ablest and most ardent apostles of his dreary creed.Positivism, indeed, bids fair, if left to itself, to become in the future both the bitterest and most formidable rival of the Christian faith; philosophical theism, which seems to bar the way, will not long serve as a break
| To quote M. Guizot's words, in the Preface to his first vol. of Meditations on the Christian Religion, “It is, in fact, the whole Church of Christ, and not this or that Church in particular, which is at the present day the object of attack in its fundamental principles. When the supernatural world, the inspiration of the Sacred Books, and the divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ are denied, the blow falls upon the shoulders of the whole body of Christians, whether Roman Catholics, Protestants, or Greeks."
2 The rea ler may be referred to the Essays on International Policy, by some of the principal English adherents of this school.
water against it. It can but give us an intellectual abstraction in place of the Living God. Views similar in tendency, though differing considerably in detail from each other, have been advocated by such writers as Gregg and F. Newman among ourselves, Emerson and Theodore Parker in America.
Let it be well remembered that opinions of this kind, and I have but cursorily noted their bearing here, are steadily on the increase, that they have already gained the public ear, and meet with something more than acquiescence from the rising intellect of the day. What future may be in store for the Church, or for the world, I know not, nor do I presume to meddle with vexed interpretations of prophetic lore. There are those who deem the reign of Antichrist is at hand. Be this as it may, in one sense he is always near, and it needs no prophet's eye to discern to-day on the spiritual horizon many of the predicted signs of his coming, written so that he who runs may read. There is, indeed, much in the present condition of Christendom to suggest such an expectation. If we are to seek the characteristic temper of Antichrist, not in the wild speculations of modern Apocalyptic dreamers, but in the words of the beloved disciple who lay on the bosom of Jesus, we must recognise it in that direct or indirect dishonour of the Incarnation, that perverse determination expressed in various forms to “dissolve” the unity of Christ's natural Body on the altar and His mystical Body in the Church, of which there are so many indications
among us; we find it in 16
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 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 tempus 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 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.
| 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 Encycli. cal' 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.