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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 11

Dr. Stanley's Lectures on the Jewish Church

Dr. Stanley's Lectures on the Jewish Church.

Here is a book on religious matters, which, meant for all the world to read, fulfils the indispensable duty of edifying at the same time that it informs. Here is a clergyman, who, looking at the Bible, sees its contents in their right proportion, and gives to each matter its due prominence. Here is an inquirer, who, treating Scripture history with a perfectly free spirit,—falsifying nothing, sophisticating nothing—treats it so that his freedom leaves the sacred power of that history inviolate. "Who that had been reproached with denying to an honest clergyman freedom to speak the truth, who that had been misrepresented as wishing to make religious truth the property of an aristocratic few, while to the multitude is thrown the sop of any convenient fiction, could desire a better opportunity than Dr. Stanley's book affords for showing what, in religious matters, is the true freedom of a religious speaker, and what the true demand and true right of his hearers?

His hearers are the many; those who prosecute the religious life, or those who need to prosecute it. All these come to him with certain demands in virtue of certain needs. There remain a few of mankind who do not come to him with these demands, or acknowledge these needs. Mr. Maurice (whom I name with gratitude and respect) says, in a remarkable letter, that I thus assert them to be without these needs. By no means: that is a matter which literary criticism does not try. But it sees that a very few of mankind aspire after a life which is not the life after which the vast majority aspire, and to help them to which the vast majority seek the aid of religion. It sees that the ideal life—the summum bonum for a born thinker, for a philosopher like Parmenides, or Spinoza, or Hegel—is an eternal series of intellectual acts. It sees that this life treats all things, religion included, with entire freedom as subject-matter for thought, as elements in a vast movement of speculation. The few who live this life stand apart, and have an existence separate from that of the mass of mankind; they address an imaginary audience of their mates; the region which they inhabit is the laboratory wherein are fashioned the new intellectual ideas which, from time to time, take their place in the world. Are these few justified, in the sight of God, in so living? That is a question which literary criticism must not attempt to answer. But such is the worth page 328 of intellect, such the benefit which it procures for man, that criticism, itself the creation of intellect, cannot but recognise this purely intellectual life, when really followed, as justified so far as the jurisdiction of criticism extends, and even admirable. Those they regard as really following it, who show the power of mind to animate and carry forward the intellectual movement in which it consists. No doubt, many boast of living this life, of inhabiting this purely intellectual region, who cannot really breathe its air: they vainly profess themselves able to live by thought alone, and to dispense with religion: the life of the many, and not the life of the few, would have been the right one for them. They follow the life of the few at their own peril. No doubt the rich and the great, unsoftened by suffering, hardened by enjoyment, craving after novelty, imagining that they see a distinction in the freedom of mind with which the born thinker treats all things, and believing that all distinctions naturally belong to them, have in every age been prone to treat religion as something which the multitude wanted, but they themselves did not—to affect free thinking as a kind of aristocratic privilege; while, in fact, for any real mental or moral life at all, their frivolity entirely disqualified them. They, too, profess the life of the few at their own peril. But the few do really remain, whose life, whose ideal, whose demand, is thought, and thought only: to the communications (however bold) of these few with one another through the ages, criticism assigns the right of passing freely.

But the world of the few—the world of speculative life—is not the world of the many, the world of religious life; the thoughts of the former cannot properly be transferred to the latter, cannot be called true in the latter, except on certain conditions. It is not for literary criticism to set forth adequately the religious life; yet what, even as criticism, it sees of this life, it may say. Religious life resides not in an incessant movement of ideas, but in a feeling which attaches itself to certain fixed objects. The religious life of Christendom has thus attached itself to the acts, and words, and death of Christ, as recorded in the Gospels and expounded in the Epistles of the New Testament; and to the main histories, the prophecies and the hymns of the Old Testament. In relation to these objects, it has adopted certain intellectual ideas; such are, ideas respecting the being of God, the laws of nature, the freedom of human will, the character of prophecy, the character of inspiration. But its essence, the essence of Christian life, consists in the ardour, the love, the self-renouncement, the ineffable aspiration with which it throws itself upon the objects of its attachment themselves, not in the intellectual ideas which it holds in relation to them. These ideas belong to another sphere, the sphere of speculative life, of intellect, of pure thought; transplanted into the sphere of religious life, they have no meaning in them, no vitality, no truth, unless they adjust themselves to the conditions of that life, unless they allow it to pursue its course freely. The moment this is forgotten, the moment in the sphere of the religious life undue prominence is given to the intellectual ideas which are here but accessories, the moment the first place is not given to the emotion which is here the principal, that moment the essence of the religious life is violated: confusion and falsehood are introduced into its sphere. And, if not only is undue prominence in this sphere given to intellectual ideas, but these ideas are so presented as in themselves violently to jar with the religious feeling, then the confusion is a thousand times worse confounded, the falsehood a thousand times more glaring.

"The earth moves," said Galileo, speaking as a philosopher in the sphere of pure thought, in which ideas have an absolute value; and he said the truth; he was a great thinker because he perceived this truth; he was a great man because he asserted it in spite of persecution. It was the theologians, insisting upon page 329 transplanting his idea into the world of theology, and placing it in a false connexion there, who were guilty of folly. But if Galileo himself, quitting the sphere of mathematics, coming into the sphere of religion, had placed this thesis of his in juxtaposition with the Book of Joshua, had applied it so as to impair the value of the Book of Joshua for the religious life of Christendom, to make that book regarded as a tissue of fictions, for which no blame indeed attached to Joshua, because he never meant it for anything else,—then Galileo would have himself placed his idea in a false connexion, and would have deserved censure: his "the earth moves" in spite of its absolute truth, would have become a falsehood. Spinoza, again, speaking as a pure thinker to pure thinkers, not concerning himself whether what he said impaired or confirmed the power and virtue of the Bible for the actual religious life of Christendom, but pursuing a speculative demonstration, said: "The Bible contains much that is mere history, and, like all history, sometimes true, sometimes false." But we must bear in mind that Spinoza did not promulgate this thesis in immediate connexion with the religious life of his tunes, but as a speculative idea: he uttered it not as a religious teacher, but as an independent philosopher; and he left it, as Galileo left his, to filter down gradually (if true) into the common thought of mankind, and to adjust itself, through other agency than his, to their religious life. The Bishop of Natal does not speak as an independent philosopher, as a pure thinker; if he did, and if he spoke with power in this capacity, literary criticism would, I have already said, have no right to condemn him. But he speaks actually and avowedly, as by virtue of his office he was almost inevitably constrained to speak, as a religious teacher to the religious world. Well, then, any intellectual idea which, speaking in this capacity, he promulgates, he is bound to place in its right connexion with the religious life, he is bound to make harmonise with that life, he is bound not to magnify to the detriment of that life: else, in the sphere of that life, it is false. He takes an intellectual idea, we will say, which is true; the idea that Mr. Burgon's proposition, "Every letter of the Bible is the direct utterance of the Most High," is false. And how does he apply this idea in connexion with the religious life? He gives to it the most excessive, the most exaggerated prominence; so much so, that hardly in one page out of twenty does he suffer his reader to recollect that the religious life exists out of connexion with this idea, that it is, in truth, wholly independent of it. And by way of adjusting this idea to the feeling of the religious reader of the Bible, he puts it thus:—"In writing the story of the "Exodus from the ancient legends of his "people, the Scripture writer may have "had no more consciousness of doing "wrong, or of practising historical "deception, than Homer had, or any of the "early Roman annalists." Theological criticism censures this language as unorthodox, irreverent: literary criticism censures it as false. Its employer precisely does what I have imagined Galileo doing: he misemploys a true idea so as to deprive it of all truth. It is a thousand times truer to say that the Book of Exodus is a sacred book, an inspired history, than to say that it is fiction, not culpable because no deception was intended, because its author worked in the same free poetic spirit as the creator of the Isle of Calypso and the Garden of Alcinous.

It is one of the hardest tasks in the world to make new intellectual ideas harmonise truly with the religious life, to place them in their right light for that life. The moments in which such a change is accomplished are epochs in religious history; the men through whose instrumentality it is accomplished are great religious reformers. The greatness of these men does not consist in their having these new ideas, in their originating them. The ideas are in the world; they come originally from the sphere of pure thought; they are put into circulation by the spirit of the time. The greatness of a religious page 330 reformer consists in his reconciling them with the religious life, in his starting this life upon a fresh period in company with them. No such religious reformer for the present age has yet shown himself. Till he appears, the true religious teacher is he who, not yet reconciling all things, at least esteems things still in their due order, and makes his hearers so esteem them; who, shutting his mind against no ideas brought by the spirit of his time, sets these ideas, in the sphere of the religious life, in their right prominence, and still puts that first which is first; who, under the pressure of new thoughts, keeps the centre of the religious life where it should be. The best distinction of Dr. Stanley's lectures is that in them he shows himself such a teacher. Others will praise them, and deservedly praise them, for their eloquence, their varied information; for enabling us to give such form and substance to our impressions from Bible history. To me they seem admirable, chiefly by the clear perception which they exhibit of a religious teacher's true business in dealing with the Bible. Dr. Stanley speaks of the Bible to the religious world, and he speaks of it so as to maintain the sense of the divine virtue of the Bible unimpaired, so as to bring out this sense more fully. He speaks of the deliverance of the Israelites out of the land of Egypt. He does not dilate upon the difficulty of understanding how the Israelites should have departed "harnessed;" but he points out how they are "the only nation in ancient or modern times, which, throwing off the yoke of slavery, claims no merit, no victory of its own: There is no Marathon, no Regillus, no Tours, no Morgarten. All is from above, nothing from themselves." He mentions the difficulty of "conceiving the migration of a whole nation under such circumstances" as those of the Israelites, the proposal "to reduce the numbers of the text from 600,000 to 600 armed men;" he mentions the difficulty of determining the exact place of the passage of the Bed Sea; but he quickly "dismisses these considerations to fix the mind on the essential features of this great deliverance"—on the Almighty, "through the dark and terrible night, with the enemy pressing close behind and the driving seas on either side, leading his people like sheep by the hands of Moses and Aaron;" his people, carrying with them from that night "the abiding impression that this deliverance—the first and greatest in their history—was effected not by their own power, but by the power of God." He tells the reader how, "with regard to all the topographical details of the Israelite journey, we are still in the condition of discoverers;" but, instead of impressing upon him as an inference from this that the Bible narrative is a creation such as the Iliad and Odyssey, he reminds him, with truth, how "suspense as to the exact details of form and locality is the most fitting approach for the consideration of the presence of Him who has made darkness his secret place, his pavilion round about Him with dark water, and thick clouds to cover them." Everywhere Dr. Stanley thus seeks to give its due prominence to that for which the religious life really values the Bible. If "the Jewish religion is characterised in an eminent degree by the dimness of its conception of a future life," Dr. Stanley docs not find here, like Warburton, matter for a baffling contrast between Jewish and pagan religion, but he finds fresh proof of the grand edifying fact of Jewish history, "the consciousness of the living, actual presence of God himself—a truth, in the limited conceptions of this youthful nation, too vast to admit of any rival truth, however precious." He speaks of the call of Samuel. What he finds to dwell on in this call is not the exact nature of the voice that called Samuel, on which Spinoza speculates so curiously; it is the image of "childlike, devoted, continuous goodness," which Samuel's childhood brings before us; the type which Samuel offers "of holiness, of growth, of a new creation without conversion." He speaks of the Prophets, and he avows page 331 that "the Bible recognises 'revelation' and 'inspiration' outside the circle of the chosen people;" but he makes it his business not to reduce, in virtue of this avowal, the greatness and significance of Hebrew prophecy, but to set that greatness and significance in clearer light than ever. To the greatness and significance of what he calls "the negative side" of that prophecy—its attacks on the falsehoods and superstitions which endeavoured to take the place of God—he does due justice; but he reserves the chief prominence for its "positive side—the assertion of the spirituality, the morality of God, His justice, His goodness, His love." Everywhere he keeps in mind the purpose for which the religious life seeks the Bible—to be enlarged and strengthened, not to be straitened and perplexed. He seizes a truth of criticism when he says that the Bible narrative, whatever inaccuracies of numbers the Oriental tendency to amplification may have introduced into it, remains a "substantially historical" work—not a work like Homer's poems; but to this proposition, which, merely so stated, is a truth of criticism and nothing more, he assigns no undue prominence: he knows that a mere truth of criticism is not, as such, a truth for the religious life.

Dr. Stanley thus gives a lesson not only to the Bishop of Natal, but to the Bishop of Natal's adversaries. Many of these adversaries themselves exactly repeat the Bishop's error in this, that they give a wholly undue prominence, in connexion with the religious life, to certain intellectual propositions, on which the essence and vitality of the religious life in no way depends. The Bishop devotes a volume to the exhibition of such propositions, and he is censurable because, addressing the religious world, he exhibits his propositions so as to confuse the religious life by them, not to strengthen it. He seems to have so confused it in many of his hearers that they, like himself, have forgotten in what it really consists. Puzzled by the Bishop's sums, terrified at the conclusion he draws from them, they, in their bewilderment, seek for safety in attacking the sums themselves, instead of putting them on one side as irrelevant, and rejecting the conclusion deduced from them as untrue. "Here is a Bishop," many of Dr. Stanley's brethren are now crying in all parts of England—"here is a Bishop who has learnt among the Zulus that only a certain number of people can stand in a doorway at once, and that no man can eat eighty-eight pigeons a day, and who tells us, as a consequence, that the Pentateuch is all fiction, which, however, the author may very likely have composed without meaning to do wrong, and as a work of poetry, like Homer's." "Well," one can imagine Dr. Stanley answering them, "you cannot think that!" "No," they reply; "and yet the Bishop's sums puzzle us, and we want them disproved. And powerful answers, we know, are preparing. An adversary worthy of the Bishop will soon appear,—

Exoriare aliquis nostris ex ossibus ultor!

He, when he comes, will make mincemeat of the Bishop's calculations. Those great truths, so necessary to our salvation, which the Bishop assails, will at his hands receive all the strengthening they deserve. He will prove to demonstration that any number of persons can stand in the same doorway at once, and that one man can eat eighty-eight pigeons a day with ease." "Compose yourselves," says Dr. Stanley: "he cannot prove this." "What," cry his terrified interlocutors, "he cannot! In that case we may as well shut up our Bibles, and read Homer and the first books of Livy!" "Compose yourselves," says Dr. Stanley again: "it is not so. Even if the Bishop's sums are right, they do not prove that the Bible narrative is to be classed with the Iliad and the Legends of Rome. Even if you prove them wrong, your success does not bring you a step nearer to that which you go to the Bible to seek. Carry your achievements of this kind to the Statistical Society, to the Geographical Society, to the Ethnological Society. They have no vital interest for the religious reader of the Bible. The heart of the Bible is not there."

page 332

Just because Dr. Stanley has comprehended this, and, in a book addressed, to the religious world makes us feel that he has comprehended it, his book is excellent and salutary. I praise it for the very reason for which some critics find fault with it—for not giving prominence, in speaking of the Bible, to matters with which the real virtue of the Bible is not bound up. "The book," a critic complains, "contains no solution of the difficulties which the history of the period traversed presents in the Bible. The oracle is dumb in the very places where many would wish it to speak. This must lessen Dr. Stanley's influence in the cause of Biblical science. The present time needs bold men, prepared to give utterance to their deepest thoughts." And which are a man's deepest thoughts I should like to know: his thoughts whether it was 215 years, or 430, or 1,000 that the Israelites sojourned in Egypt,—which question the critic complains of Dr. Stanley for saying that it is needless to discuss in detail,—or his thoughts on the moral lesson to be drawn from the story of the Israelites' deliverance? And which is the true science of the Bible—that which helps men to follow the cardinal injunction of the Bible, to be "trans-"formed by the renewing of their mind, "that they may prove what is that good, "and acceptable, and perfect will of God"—or that which helps them to "settle the vexed question of the precise time when the Book of Deuteronomy assumed its present form"?—that which elaborates an octavo volume on the arithmetical difficulties of the Bible, with the conclusion that the Bible is as unhistorical as Homer's poetry, or that which makes us feel that "these difficulties melt away before the simple pathos and lofty spirit of the Bible itself"? Such critics as this critic of Dr. Stanley are those who commend the Bishop of Natal for "speaking the truth," who say that "liberals of every shade of opinion" are indignant with me for rebuking him Ah! these liberals!—the power for good they have had and lost: the power for good they will yet again have, and yet again lose! Eternal bondsmen of phrases and catchwords, will they never arrive at the heart of any matter, but always keep muttering round it their silly shibboleths like an incantation? There is truth of science and truth of religion: truth of science does not become truth of religion until it is made to harmonise with it. Applied as the laws of nature are applied in the "Essays and Reviews," applied as arithmetical calculations are applied in the Bishop of Natal's work, truths of science, even supposing them to be such, lose their truth, and the utterer of them is not a "fearless speaker of truth," but, at best, a blunderer. "Allowing two feet in width for each full-grown man, nine men could just have stood in front of the Tabernacle." "A priest could not have eaten, daily, eighty-eight pigeons for his own portion, 'in the most holy place.'" And as a conclusion from all this: "In writing the story of the Exodus from the ancient legends of his people, the Scripture-writer may have had no more consciousness of doing wrong, or of practising historical deception, than Homer had, or any of the early Roman annalists." Heaven and earth, what a gospel! Is it this which a "fearless speaker of truth" must "burst" if he cannot utter? Is this a message which it is woe to him if he does not preach?—this a testimony which he is straitened till he can deliver?

I am told that the Bishop of Natal explains to those who do not know it, that the Pentateuch is not to be read as an authentic history, but as a narrative full of divine instruction in morals and religion: I wish to lay aside all ridicule, into which literary criticism too readily falls, while I express my unfeigned conviction that in his own heart the Bishop of Natal honestly believes this, and that he originally meant to convey this to his readers. But I censure his book because it entirely fails to convey this. I censure it, because while it impresses strongly on the reader that "the Pentateuch is not to be read as an authentic narrative," it so entirely fails to page 333 make him feel that it is "a narrative full of divine instruction in morals and religion." I censure it, because, addressed to the religious world, it puts the non-essential part of the Bible so prominent, and the essential so much in the background, and, having established this false proportion, holds such language about the Bible in consequence of it, that, instead of serving the religious life, it confuses it. I do not blame the Bishop of Natal's doctrine for its novelty or heterodoxy—literary criticism takes no account of a doctrine's novelty or heterodoxy: I said expressly that Mr. Jowett's Essay was, for literary criticism, justified by its unction; I said that the Bishop of Natal's book was censurable, because, proclaiming what it did, it proclaimed no more; because, not taking rank as a book of pure speculation, inevitably taking rank as a religious book for the religious world, for the great majority of mankind, it treated its subject unedifyingly. Address what doctrine you like to the religious world, be as unorthodox as you will, literary criticism has no authority to blame you: only, if your doctrine is evidently not adapted to the needs of the religious life,—if, as you present it, it tends to confound that life rather than to strengthen it, literary criticism has the right to check you; for it at once perceives that your doctrine, as you present it, is false. Was it, nevertheless, your duty to put forth that doctrine, since you believed it to be true? The honoured authority of the Archbishop of Dublin is invoked to decide that it was. Which duty comes first for a man—the duty of proclaiming an inadequate idea, or the duty of making an inadequate idea adequate? But this difficult question we need not resolve: it is enough that, if it is a man's duty to announce even his inadequate ideas, it is the duty of criticism to tell him that they are inadequate.

But, again, it is said that the Bishop of Natal's book will, in the end, have a good effect, by loosening the superstitious attachment with which the mass of the English religious world clings to the letter of the Bible, and that it deserves from criticism indulgence on this ground. I cannot tell what may, in the end, be the effect of the Bishop of Natal's book upon the religious life of this country. Its natural immediate effect may be seen by any one who will take the trouble of looking at a newspaper called Public Opinion, in which the Bishop's book is the theme of a great continuous correspondence. There, week after week, the critical genius of our nation discovers itself in captivating nudity; and there, in the letters of a terrible athlete of Reason, who signs himself "Eagle-Eye," the natural immediate effect of the Bishop's book may be observed. Its natural ultimate effect would be, I think, to continue, in another form, the excessive care of the English religious world for that which is not of the real essence of the Bible: as this world has for years been prone to say, "We are the salt of the earth, because we believe that every syllable and letter of the Bible is the direct utterance of the Most High," so it would naturally, after imbibing the Bishop of Natal's influence, be inclined to say, "We are the salt of the earth, because we believe that the Pentateuch is unhistorical." Whether they believe the one or the other, what they should learn to say is: "We are unprofitable servants; the religious life is beyond." But, at all events, literary criticism, which is the guardian of literary truth, must judge books according to their intrinsic merit and proximate natural effect, not according to their possible utility and remote contingent effect. If the Bishop of Natal's demonstrations ever produce a salutary effect upon the religious life of England, it will be after some one else, or he himself, has supplied the now missing power of edification: for literary criticism his book, as it at present stands, must always remain a censurable production.

The situation of a clergyman, active-minded as well as pious, is, I freely admit, at the present moment one of great difficulty. Intellectual ideas are not the essence of the religious life; still the religious life connects itself, as I have said, with certain intellectual ideas, and all intellectual ideas follow a page 334 development independent of the religious life. Goethe remarks somewhere how the Zeit-Geist, as he calls it, the Time-Spirit, irresistibly changes the ideas current in the world. When he was young, he says, the Time-Spirit had made every one disbelieve in the existence of a single Homer: when he was old, it was bearing every one to a belief in it. Intellectual ideas, which the majority of men take from the age in which they live, are the dominion of this Time-Spirit; not moral and spiritual life, which is original in each individual. In the Articles of the Church of England are exhibited the intellectual ideas with which the religious life of that Church, at the time of the Reformation, and almost to the present day, connected itself. They are the intellectual ideas of the English Reformers and of their time; they are liable to development and change. Insensibly the Time-Spirit brings to men's minds a consciousness that certain of these ideas have undergone such development, such change. For the laity, to whom the religious life of their National Church is the great matter, and who owe to that Church only the general adhesion of citizens to the Government under which they are born, this consciousness is not irksome as it is for the clergy, who, as ministers of the Church, undertake to become organs of the intellectual ideas of its formularies. As this consciousness becomes more and more distinct, it becomes more and more irksome. One can almost fix the last period in which a clergyman, very speculative by the habit of his mind, or very sensible to the whispers of the Time-Spirit, can sincerely feel himself free and at ease in his position of a minister of the Church of England. The moment inevitably arrives when such a man feels himself in a false position. It is natural that he should try to defend his position, that he should long prefer defending his position to confessing it untenable, and demanding to have it changed. Still, in his own heart, he cannot but be dissatisfied with it. It is not good for him, not good for his usefulness, to be left in it The sermons of Tauler and Wesley were not preached by men hampered by the consciousness of an unsound position. Even when a clergyman, charged full with modern ideas, manages by a miracle of address to go over the very ground most dangerous to him without professional ruin, and even to exhibit unction as he goes along, there is no reason to exult at the feat: he would probably have exhibited more unction still if he had not had to exhibit it upon the tight-rope. The time at last comes for the State, the collective nation, to intervene. Some reconstruction of the English Church, a reconstruction hardly less important than that which took place at the Reformation, is fast becoming inevitable. It will be a delicate, a most difficult task; and the reconstruction of the Protestant Churches of Germany offers an example of what is to be avoided rather than of what is to be followed.

Still, so divine, so indestructible is the power of Christianity—so immense the power of transformation afforded to it by its sublime maxim, "The letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life," that it will assuredly ever be able to adapt itself to new conditions, and, in connexion with intellectual ideas changed or developed, to enter upon successive stages of progress. It will even survive the handling of " liberals of every shade of opinion." But it will not do this by losing its essence, by becoming such a Christianity as these liberals imagine, the "Christianity not Mysterious" of Toland; a Christianity consisting of half-a-dozen intellectual propositions, and half-a-dozen moral rules deduced from them. It will do it by retaining the religious life in all its depth and fulness in connexion with new intellectual ideas; and the latter will never have meaning for it until they have been harmonised with the former, and the religious teacher who presents the latter to it, without harmonising them with the former, will never have fulfilled his mission. The religious life existed in the Church of the Middle Ages, as it exists in the Churches of Protestantism; nay, what monument of that life have the Protestant Churches produced, which for its page 335 most essential qualities, its tenderness, its spirituality, its ineffable yearning, is comparable to the "Imitation." The critical ideas of the sixteenth century broke up the Church of the Middle Ages, resting on the basis of a priesthood with supernatural power of interpreting the Bible. But Luther was a great religious reformer, not because he made himself the organ of these ideas, themselves negative, not because he shattered the idol of a mediatory priesthood, but because he reconciled these ideas with the religious life, because he made the religious life feel that a positive and fruitful conclusion was to be drawn from them,—the conclusion that each man must "work out his own salvation with fear and trembling." Protestantism has formed the notion that every syllable and letter of the Bible is the direct utterance of the Most High. The critical ideas of our century are forcing Protestantism away from this proposition, untrue like the proposition that the Pope is infallible: but the religious reformer is not he who rivets our minds upon the untruth of this proposition, who bewilders the religious life by insisting on the intellectual blunder of which it has been guilty in entertaining it; he is the man who makes us feel the future which undoubtedly exists for the religious life in the absence of it.

Makes us all feel, not the multitude only. I am reproached with wishing to make free-thinking an aristocratic privilege, while a false religion is thrown to the multitude to keep it quiet; and in this country—where the multitude is in the first place, particularly averse to being called the multitude, and in the second, by its natural spirit of honesty, particularly averse to all underhand, selfish scheming—such an imputation is readily snatched up, and carries much odium with it. I will not seek to remove that odium by any flattery, by saying that I think we are all one enlightened public together. No, there is a multitude, a multitude made up out of all ranks: probably in no country—so much has our national life been carried on by means of parties, and so inevitably does party-spirit, in regarding all things, put the consideration of their intrinsic reason and truth second, and not first—is the multitude more unintelligent, more narrow-minded, and more passionate than in this. Perhaps in no country in the world is so much nonsense so firmly believed But those on whose behalf I demand from a religious speaker edification are more than this multitude; and then-cause and that of the multitude are one. They are all those who acknowledge the need of the religious life. The few whom literary criticism regards as exempt from all concern with edification, are far fewer than is commonly supposed. Those whose life is all in thought, and to whom, therefore, literary criticism concedes the right of treating religion with absolute freedom, as pure matter for thought, are not a great class, but a few individuals. Let them think in peace, these sublime solitaries: they have a right to then-liberty: Churches will never concede it to them; literary criticism will never deny it to them. From his austere isolation a born thinker like Spinoza cries with warning solemnity to the would-be thinker, what from his austere isolation a born artist like Michael Angelo, cries to the would-be artist—"Canst thou drink of the cup that I drink of?" Those who persist in the thinker's life, are far fewer even than those who persist in the artist's. Of the educated minority, far the greatest number retain their demand upon the religious life. They share, indeed, the culture of their tune, they are curious to know the new ideas of their time; their own culture is advanced, in so far as those ideas are novel, striking, and just. This course they follow, whether they feel or not (what is certainly true), that this satisfaction of their curiosity, this culture of theirs, is not without its dangers to the religious life. Thus they go on being informed, gathering intellectual ideas at their own peril, minding, as Marcus Aurelius reproached himself with too long minding, "life less than notion." But the moment they enter the sphere of religion, they too ask and need to be edified, not informed only. They inevitably, such is the law of the religious life, take the same attitude as the least- page 336 instructed. The religious voice that speaks to them must have the tone of the spiritual world: the intellectual ideas presented to them must be made to blend with the religious life.

The world may not see this, but cannot a clergyman see it? Cannot he see that, speaking to the religious life, he may honestly be silent about matters which he cannot yet use to edification, and of which, therefore, the religious life does not want to hear? Does he not see that he is even bound to take account of the circumstances of his hearers, and that information which is only fruitless to the religious life of some of his hearers, may be worse than fruitless, confounding, to the religious life of others of them? Certainly, Christianity has not two doctrines, one for the few, another for the many; but as certainly, Christ adapted His teaching to the different stages of growth in His hearers, and for all of them adapted it to the needs of the religious life. He came to preach moral and spiritual truths; and for His purpose moral genius was of more avail than intellectual genius, St. Peter than Solomon. But the speculative few who stood outside of his teaching were not the Pharisees and the Sadducees. The Pharisees were the narrow-minded, cruel-hearted religious professors of that day; the Sadducees were the "liberals of every shade of opinion." And who, then, were the thinking few of that time?—a student or two at Athens or Alexandria. That was the hour of the religious sense of the East: but the hour of the thought of the West, of Greek thought, was also to come. The religious sense had to ally itself with this, to make certain conditions with it, to be in certain ways inevitably modified by it. Now is the hour of the thought of the West. This thought has its apostles on every side, and we hear far more of its conquests than of the conquests of the religious sense. Still the religious life maintains its indefeasible claims, and in its own sphere inexorably refuses to be satisfied with the new thought, to admit it to be of any truth and significance, until it has harmonised it with itself, until it has imparted to it its own divine power of refreshing souls. Some day the religious life will have harmonised all the new thought with itself, will be able to use it freely: but it cannot use it yet. And who has not rejoiced to be able, between the old idea, tenable no longer, which once connected itself with certain religious words, and the new idea, which has not yet connected itself with them, to rest for awhile in the healing virtue and beauty of the words themselves? The old popular notion of perpetual special interventions of Providence in the concerns of man is weak and erroneous; yet who has yet found, to define Providence for the religious life, words so adequate as the words of Isaiah—"In all their affliction he was afflicted, "and the angel of his presence saved "them; and he bare them and carried "them all the days of old?" The old popular notion of an incensed God appeased in His wrath against the helpless race of mankind by a bloody sacrifice, is barbarous and false; but what intellectual definition of the death of Christ has yet succeeded in placing it, for the religious life, in so true an aspect as the sublime ejaculation of the Litany: "O "Lamb of God, that takest away the sins " of the world, have mercy upon us!"

And you are masters in Israel, and know not these things; and you require a voice from the world of literature to tell them to you! Those who ask nothing better than to remain silent on such topics, who have to quit their own sphere to speak of them, who cannot touch them without being reminded that they survive those who touched them with far different power, you compel, in the mere interest of letters, of intelligence, of general culture, to proclaim truths which it was your function to have made familiar. And, when you have thus forced the very stones to cry out, and the dumb to speak, you call them singular because they know these truths, and arrogant because they declare them!

Matthew Arnold.