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the first eight centuries, and kept clear of all later Western definitions, she has been able thenceforward to maintain her status quo almost unchanged; but only because for the last thousand years, owing to circumstances it would take too long to specify here, she has stood aloof from the whole course of European thought, and has advanced neither in dogmatic nor moral theology, in Biblical criticism, or historical research. Once bring her into contact with the criticism, the questionings, the doubts of the day, and she will be compelled either to advance or to recede, either to sacrifice what she jealously retains, or to recognise new applications of her ancient faith. There has been too little temptation to fall into error, to suggest the necessity for harmonizing truth.' In England there has of course been more freedom of thought, but the strong conservative instincts of the national character have combined with the Catholic elements of written or verbal tradition retained in the national Church, and which discriminate her broadly from continental Protestantism, to sustain in the hearts of the people a large inheritance of orthodox feeling and belief. They have accepted the Bible, and have (often unconsciously) accepted with it a traditional interpretation of its meaning on many points, partly because it has never
The Greeks, however, did put forth a confession of faith in 1643, in' consequence of the Calvinistic tendencies of Cyril Lucar, under the title of “ Orthodox Confession of Faith of the Catholic and Apostolic Eastern Church,” which was confirmed by the Synod of Bethlehem in 1672. With this may be compared the English articles and formularies. The term transubstantiation (uetovolwois) was adopted by the Synod of Bethlehem.
occurred to them to question the one or the other. And we may rejoice that it has been so. But this period of unthinking acquiescence is rapidly passing away. A School, long powerful in Germany, has, of late years, made its way into England, which, from the far more general interest felt in religious questions in this country, may be expected to exercise a tenfold greater influence here over popular Christianity. Of its more prominent members all would wish to speak with that respect which their character, their learning, and their abilities deserve; in their generosity of tone, and in some of their detailed opinions, they excel many who profess a more orthodox belief. But there can be no doubt that their teaching, logically carried out, would disintegrate the whole received system of Christianity, however little they may contemplate such a result, or be prepared to face it. They make no secret of their absolute hostility to dogma, as a mischievous excrescence on the simpler “faith of the Incarnation,’ which, in some not very intelligible sense, they profess their desire to retain. And their line of argument can be met successfully only by a bold and ungrudging assertion of the Catholic as opposed to the rationalistic principle of development. For the champions of dogmatic Christianity to ignore it, is as though an astronomer should ignore the laws of motion, or a physiologist the circulation of the blood. The Christ of the Gospels, they would tell us, was gradually formulised, through the action of ecclesiastical dogmatism, into the Christ of later theology, till we pass from the
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 ouoouoios 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 Schører, 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