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LENT TERM, 1879, 




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I owe the opportunity of preaching 
these sermons to the favour of the Syndicate 
of which you are Chairman. I am indebted 
to you for much personal kindness shewn to 
one who was previously a stranger. I trust 
you will allow me thus to connect your 
name with the discourses, now that they are 
published at your request, and that of other 
Members of the University. 

I am, 

Yours very faithfully, 


Feb. rg, 1879. 





Say not thou, What is the cause that the former days 
were better than these? for thou dost not en- 
quire wisely concerning this .... i 


S. MATT. xn. 30. 

He that is not with me is against me; and he that 
gathereth not with me scattereth abroad. 

S. LUKE ix. 50. 

Forbid him not : for he that is not against us is 
for us 

viii Contents. 

ACTS xvn. 23. 


1 found an altar with this inscription, TO THE 

ROM. i. 19. 

That which may be known of God is manifest in 

them ; . 78 




Say not thou, What is the cazise that the 
former days were better than these? for 
tkou dost not enqidre wisely concerning 

THERE is a strange modernness of thought 
and feeling in these confessions of the Preacher. 
That sense, of the weariness of a confused and 
disordered life ; that sentence of 'Vanity of 
vanities' written on all. man's pains and plea- 
sures, pursuits and aims 1 ; that blase cynicism 
as to the existence of any true -disinterested 
goodness in man or woman 2 ; that absence of 
any clear faith in the future of Israel or of 
mankind all this is divided by a whole 

1 Eccles. /amVw. s Eccles. vii. 28. 

P. S. I 

2 Romanism. 

heaven from the life of patriarchs, prophets, 
psalmists, with which, as by the seeming ac- 
cident of history, it is now associated. We 
seem carried into a time when men were drift- 
ing away, under the pressure of new problems 
and new thoughts, from the moorings of their 
ancient faith, and had not yet found, in the 
midst of the wild waves of doubts and diffi- 
culties which were surging round them, a safe 
anchorage or the desired haven. We need 
not, for our present purpose, enquire into the 
date and authorship of the Book. Whether 
it represents the conflict, in the mind of the 
historical Son of David from whom it pur- 
ports to proceed, between the traditional faith 
which he had inherited from his fathers, and 
the largeness of heart which came from con- 
tact with other systems of belief and worship ; 
or belongs, as some have thought, to a far 
later period in the history of Semitic culture, 
when the teachers of the Garden and the 
Porch had brought before the mind of some 
restless thinker other thoughts of God and 
life, and the chief end of life, than those which 

Romanism. 3 

had sustained the souls of an earlier genera- 
tion 1 ; this, at any rate is clear, that the aim 
and purpose of the book seems to be to por^ 
tray the shiftings and oscillations of a time 
when the old order is passing away and the 

new is not developed in its completeness ; 

when men go to and fro in devious ways, in 

many wanderings of thought. We hear the 
"two voices" of Scepticism and Faith 2 ; the 
latter heard in feeble protests, unwilling to let 
slip the hope which yet it cannot firmly grasp ; 
the former uttering itself in loud reiterated 
murmurs, that the world is out of joint, that 
man knows nothing, or but very little, of the 
whence and whither of his being, that a 
balanced scepticism and an upright life are 
well-nigh all that he can aim at as a guide in 
the tangled intricacies of the labyrinth of life ; 

1 The dates that have been assigned to the Book take a 
sufficiently wide range from circ. B.C. 992, on the assump- 
tion of Salomonic authorship, still maintained by many critics, 
to B. c. 200, as fixed on independent grounds by Hitzig and 

2 The words remind us of Tennyson's poem, " The Two 
Voices," which, taken together with his "Palace of Art," is, 
practically, though with no apparent consciousness of following 
in the same track, the best commentary on Ecclesiastes. 

I 2 

4 Romanism, 

that, at the best, 'he can only fall back on 
the belief that behind the surface disorders of 
the world, there is working silently, slowly, 
surely, an Eternal order, that will one day 
bring to judgment every secret work, whether 
it be good or evil. (Eccles. xii. 1 3, 14.) 

It is almost a truism that there have been 
periods in the Jiistory of human thought of 
which this floating, transitional, unsettled state 
of feeling has been eminently characteristic. 
It was so when the old faiths of Greece or 
Rome had yielded to the subtle and pervad- 
ing influence .of Stoic and Epicurean systems 
and to the scepticism which was engendered 
by the conflict of those systems. It was so in 
the sixteenth century, when mediaeval theology 
came into collision with the revived paganism, 
and the critical questioning temper of the 
Renaissance 1 . It was so, in our own country, 

1 The scepticism of the Renaissance period had its chief 
representatives in Italy among the circle of scholars gathered 
round Lorenzo de Medici at Florence, and who, after watch- 
ing the attempts of some of their number, like Mirandola and 
Fjcino, to Platonize Christianity, fell into the general license 
of thought and life which was rebuked by Savonarola. In' 
Giordano Bruno it found a quasi-pantheistic development. It 

Romanism. 5 

in the eighteenth century, when men were led, 
through utter weariness of Calvinistic and 
Arminian controversies, of questions about 
Vestments and positions, to the free thought 
which transformed Anglicans into Latitudina- 
rians, and Presbyterians into Sociniajis, and 
led others to a cold and naked Deism 1 . It 
will hardly be .questioned that the times in 
which we are now living present many analo- 
gous phenomena. There is an uneasy feeling 

was popularized by Montaigne in France, and has left traces 
of its influence in England in the teaching as to the indiffer- 
ence of Creeds against which the Eighteenth Article of the 
Church of England is a protest. 

1 Chillingworth is memorable as the leader of the van- 
guard in this progress to a wider range of thought than that 
which had been dominant, in one phase under Whitgift and 
Abbot, ha another under Laud. Stillingfleet, Taylor, Burnet, 
Tillotson, represent its later development within the Church 
of England. Baxter, in his later years, cast off much of the 
dogmatism of his earlier life, and became the forerunner of 
the movement which culminated in the great Conference of 
Presbyterians, Independents and Baptists at Salter's Hall in 
1721, when the first of these three bodies for the first time 
rejected the principle of subscription to Creeds and Articles, 
and committed itself to the current of speculative thought 
which ended in transforming nearly the whole body into 
the modern Unitarians. Of the wide scepticism of the 
time Mr Pattison's paper on the "Tendencies of Religious 
Thought in England, 1688 1792," in Essays and Reviews, 
gives the best accessible account. 

6 Romanism. 

that we are living in a transition state and 
that an unknown future is opening to us. 
Two great religious movements, tending in 
opposite directions, have run their course, and 
seem, in part at least, to have lost their earlier 
strength. Criticism has opened new fields of 
enquiry as to the authority of the sacred 
books, and the nature and measure of the 
inspiration which men had hitherto ascribed 
to all alike with an unquestioning reverence. 
The science which deals with the organic 
world has opened vistas of a boundless past 
of almost illimitable aeons, during which man 
and the dwelling-place of man have been alike 
evolved from lower and more rudimentary 
forms. The science which deals with the his- 
tory of human thought has traced a like evo- 
lution in the religious history of mankind, 
and notes affinities between systems of faith 
and worship where before we had only recog- 
nised contrasts. We learn to talk of Semitic 
tendencies where before we accepted a revela- 
tion of the Lord. From many quarters and 
in many different voices, some grave with the 

Romanism. 7 

serenity of wisdom, some flippant with the 
superficial levity of a half-knowledge, we are 
told that we have ignorantly worshipped 
dreaming of Him or It as even such an 
One as ourselves that which after all must 

remain for ever as the Unknown and Unknow- 


able, and which there is now no Prophet or 
Apostle to declare to us. Within the circle 
of those who have not as yet listened to the 
voice of the charmer, who would. fain stop 
their ears to the unwelcome words that rob 
them of their vision of peace and seem to 
lead them only to the blank darkness of the 
abyss, there is yet a sense of disquietude and 
distress. They ask, as they look back upon 
the past, each school from its own standpoint, 
contrasting it with the present, why the former 
days were better than the latter. They sigh 
for the golden age of faith in which their 
fathers had rested, trusting in the guidance of 
the Book that could not err, or in that of its 
equally infallible interpreter 1 . 

1 It is needless to give references for the verification of 
phenomena which meet our eyes at every turn in the floating 
literature of the day. It would be enough to give a broad- 

8 . Romanism. 

It is at once a necessity and a duty at such 
a time, for those who take any higher view of 
life than that of acquiescence in the routine 
of the little world in which they live, to look 
before and after, to choose their own path, 
and endeavour to solve, or to recognise as 
insoluble, the problems which they have to 
face. The .question, Who will shew us any 
good ? is one which many hearts are asking. 
The work of the preacher, now, as in the 
days of Ecclesiastes, is to answer that ques- 
tion as of the ability which God giveth, 
reading, as far as he may, the lessons of the 
past, recognising the facts of the present, 
looking forward to that future which in its 
dim uncertainties awaits alike communities 
and individual souls. The Respice, Aspice, 
Prospice of St Bernard may well be taken 
as a watchword both for the speakers and 
the hearers at such a time and in such a 

cast passim over the whole ground occupied by the Nine- 
teenth Century, the Westminster, Contemporary and Fort- 
nightly Reviews, and the Pall Mall Gazette, The nobler 
leaders of thought will be recognised as I may have occasion 
to cite their actual words. 

Rofoanism. 9 

place as this. And recognising what are, 
at least, the .dominant forces that are acting 
upon you to whom I speak, and drawing 
you in this or that direction, the survey 
which those words imply will bring before 
us in succession the systems which repre- 
sent the two great divisions of Christian 
thought, with which we are practically con- 
cerned, and the forms of thought which lie 
outside the range of Christendom and which 
present themselves in the form either of 
positive denial or of an Agnostic scepticism. 
Romanism, Protestantism, Unbelief will come 
before us, that we may ask what claims each 
has on our regard, what lessons the history 
of each teaches what course it is our wisdom 
to take in regard to each of them. 

One word, however, has to be said before 
we enter on that enquiry, and it concerns us 
all very nearly. The warning of the preacher, 
"Thou dost not enquire wisely concerning 
these things," though we may not accept it 
blindly as shutting out all such trains of 
thought as profitless, is not without signi- 

io Romanism. 

ficance. It is wise to learn the lessons which 
God has taught mankind through the ex- 
perience of the past wise to remember that 
even the systems of theology which men 
have deduced from Scripture, or which have 
been developed by influences apart from 
Scripture, require to be tested and tried by 
the teaching of the history of the Church 
of Christ. It is not wise that we should 
enter on that enquiry in the temper of a 
regretful idolatry of the past, or forget that 
we are 'called to live and act in the pre- 
sent. Each one of us belongs to a nation, 
a Church, a College, a neighbourhood, a 
family, in which, however limited the range 
of his influence, he may be a power for evil 
or for good. Each one of us has an earthly 
life which is capable of growth and discipline 
till it ripens into life eternal or ends in the 
shame and misery of an eternal failure. Each 
has been called to inherit the blessing of 
being a child of God, redeemed by the blood 
of Christ from the vain and fruitless life 
which would otherwise have been his por- 

Romanism. i I 

tion. And if as yet/ in the doubt and per- 
plexity of these latter times, which we feel 
to be not better but worse than the former, 
we fail to grasp these higher thoughts, and 
they, too, seem to float in the cloudland of 
dreams and speculations, this, at least, you 
know and feel, that there lies before every 
one of you, at every moment of his life, the 
power of speaking truth and falsehood, of 
doing good or evil, of feeling love or hatred, 
and there is a voice within your souls 
speaking, as the Master spoke of old, "with 
authority and not as the scribes 1 ," bidding 
you to refrain from the evil and to seek the 
good: at least, giving its warnings, even if 
you do not see how they are to be fulfilled, 
of a judgment which shall render to every 
man according to his works, and bring to 

1 The philosophy of Kant is, perhaps, less studied now 
than it was some forty or fifty years ago. Yet it is well to 
recall the stress laid by him on the 'categorical imperative,' 
the authoritative command, Thoit shalt or Thou shalt not, 
heard in the depths of consciousness as the foundation of all 
ethics, and to remember that his teaching on this point was 
recognised by Dr Pusey (Historical Enquiry, p. 165) as 
"an initiating instructor" (the TrcuSdyuyos of Gal. iii. 24) 
"leading men to Christ." 

12 Romanism. 

light the counsels of all hearts. The life of an 
unwilling scepticism ought to be more than 
most lives, one of honest labour, and self- 
reverencing purity, and thoughtful care for 
others for that such a life is true and noble 
is the one gleam of light which it has to 
guide it in the tangled labyrinth in which 
its lot is cast. It is not without a deep 
significance that the counsels of the preacher 
who had, far back in the history of thought, 
anticipated the doubt and weariness of these 
later ages should be summed up in the rule 
of life, "Whatsoever thy hand, findeth to 
do, do it with thy might." " Fear God and 
keep His commandments, for that is all that 
man has to do 1 ." For those who cannot as 
yet rise to the higher laws : " Do all to the 
glory of God," " do all in the name of the 
Lord Jesus 2 ," those twin precepts may well 
be received as being, what indeed they are, 
oracles of God. 

I return to the main enquiry which now 
lies before us. We ask, as we look back 
1 Eccles. ix. 10, xii. 13. 2 r Cor. x. 31; Col. iii. 17. 

Romanism. 13 

upon the past history of Christendom upon 
the records of the last three hundred years of 
our own branch of Christendom, upon the 
currents of thought and feeling within the 
horizon of our own lives, what is the secret 
of the power exercised by that system which 
seems from one standpoint to belong to the 
former things that have passed away, and 
from another to retain an unexhausted vitality 
of existence ? What, we ask, is the spring 
'and source of this renewed energy? What 
are the attractions and what the claims 
of the Church of Rome on us who are not 
her children with what convictions, sym- 
pathies, hopes or fears, should we look on her 
teaching and her policy? 

We may enter on that enquiry without 
bitterness and without prejudice. There is 
no need for opening old wounds or reiterating 
the phrases which belong to a time of con- 
troversy when men wrote and spoke in the 
heat of a passionate conflict "Idolatry to 
be abhorred of all faithful Christians," " blas- 
phemous fables and dangerous deceits," the 

14 Romanism. 

exclusion from the heavenly Jerusalem of 
all who do not forsake what we look upon 
as the mystical Babylon 1 these we may 
well regard as involving more than we would 
willingly say now in the light of a wider 
experience and a larger charity. They keep 
their place in our formularies, because it is 
not easy to alter them without the risk of a 
process which might be destructive of much 
besides, and of which we cannot be sure that 
it would be followed by a wise reconstruc- 
tion. We may acknowledge freely, while we 
protest against errors of doctrine, and corrupt 
worship, and unfounded claims, and unscrupu- 
lous intrigue, that Rome has yet been in 
times past as "the light of the wide West 2 " 

1 Art. XXXI. Rtibric in Communion Office. Homily 
against Peril of Idolatry, Part III. Hooker, in his contro- 
versy with Travers, appears almost as the earliest champion 
of wider and more charitable thoughts (Walton's Life, ed. 
Keble, i. p. 56). There are, I imagine, few bishops or theo- 
logians of repute who would willingly use such language now. 
3 The words have the interest of coming from an early 
poem of J. H. Newman's : 

"And next a mingled throng besets the breast 

Of bitter thoughts and sweet; 
How shall I name thee, 'light of the wide West'; 
Or 'heinous error-seat'?" Lyra Apostolica, CLXX. 

Romanism. 15 

-the home of saints leading many souls 
to Christ. She, too, has had her martyrs 
and confessors who did not count their lives 
dear unto them so that- they might finish 
.their course with joy; her mission preachers 

who have carried the cross of Christ into 


far-off heathen lands; her witnesses .to holi- 
ness and purity and humility and love, who 
have been as lights shining in the world. To 
admit all this is to make no fatal or unwise 
concession. For not even this, though it 
may show that truth has not been altogether 
lost nor the grace of God's Spirit forfeited, 
can turn error into truth, or change the weight 
of evidence, or be accepted as a set-off against 
manifold corruptions. 

There can be little doubt that, at least in 
these latter times, the secret of the fascination 
which Rome has exercised even on men of 
widest culture and subtlest intellect, still more 
on those who are weak and ignorant and un- 
stable, is found in the prevalent scepticism 
which marks a period of transition. It is not 
a happy, hardly even a pleasant, state to be in 

1 6 Romanism. 

for one who is conscious of a craving after 
truth, who would fain have something certain 
to rest on who yearns, it may be, for a greater 
measure of assurance than is compatible with 
the limits of our knowledge. To that appe- 
tite sometimes healthy, sometimes morbid 
Rome appeals. She assumes that it is the 
purpose of God not only that each soul should 
have sufficient light for its guidance, if it will 
live by the light it has, through the chances 
and changes, the duties and dangers of our 
life, but that there should be for all the means 
of attaining to an unerring judgment on all 
questions which the speculative intellect may 
raise as to the being of God and His dealings 
with mankind. And she claims, almost as if 
the very magnitude of the claim carried with 
it its own attestation, to give that unerring 
guidance. She points to the infinite variations 
of creed among those who rest on Scripture 
only as a proof that there is no adequate 
certainty to be found there. In her latest 
developments she abandons the appeal to an 
unbroken tradition, and to the authority of 

Romanism. 17 

the Church as represented in her councils, and 
rests on the personal infallibility of the so- 
called successors . of St Peter, speaking ex 
cathedrd, as the one rock on which our faith 
can rest in the midst of the wild whirling sea 
of conflicting theories and doubts. "Roma 
locuta est; causa finita est n are her last words 
to the nations and Churches of Christendom. 
Beyond her limits, there is no safety; scarcely, 
except on the plea of invincible ignorance - 
and uncovenanted mercies, the shadow of a 
hope 1 . 

We ask, unless we are fascinated by the 
very magnitude of the claim, on what grounds 
it rests, and we find that the evidence offered 
is at every stage inadequate. There is the 
promise made to Peter, and it is assumed that 
he is the rock on which the Church was to be 

1 The language, and perhaps the thoughts, of Romish 
divines has of late shewn that the Zeil-Geist has penetrated 
even where the doors and windows were most closely barred 
against it, and in their hands, as in those of Anglicans, the 
plea of " involuntary ignorance and invincible prejudice" is' 
tolerably elastic. It must not be forgotten, however, that the 
dogma against which the whole of Chillingworth's Religion 
of frotestants was directed was that "Protestantism unre-. 
pented of destroys salvation." 

P. S. 2 

1 8 Romanism. 

built, that he and not Christ is the foundation 
and the chief corner-stone 1 . It is assumed 

1 Matt. xvi. 18, 19. I may perhaps venture to quote the 
substance of a note giving what seems to me the true mean- 
ing of what has been for centuries the subject of endless 
controversies. "What then is the rock (irfrpa) which is dis- 
tinguished from the man (irtrpos) ? Was it Peter's faith 
(subjective), or the truth (objective) which he confessed, or 
lastly, Christ Himself? Taking all the facts of the case, the 
balance seems to incline in favour of the last view : (i) Christ, 
and not Peter, is the Rock in i Cor. x. 4, the Foundation .in 
i Cor. iii. n, the Corner-stone in Eph. ii. 10, and in 
St Peter's own teaching (i Pet. ii. 6, 7). (2) The poetry of 
the Old Testament associated the idea .of the Rock with the 
greatness and steadfastness of God, not with that of a man 
(Deut. xxxiii. 4, 18; 2 Sam. xxii. 3, xxiii. 3; Ps. xviii. 2, 31, 
46; Isai. xvii. 10). (3) As with the words which, in their 
form, present a parallel to these, 'Destroy this temple' 
{John ii. 19) ; so here, we may believe the meaning to have 
been indicated by significant look or gesture. The Rock on 
which the Church was to be built was Christ Himself, in the 
mystery of that union of the Divine and the Human which 
had been the subject of St Peter's confession. Had Peter 
himself been meant, we may add, the simpler form, 'Thou 
art Peter, and on thee will I build my Church,' would have 
been clearer and more natural. As it is, the collocation 
suggests an implied contrast; 'Thou art the Rock- Apostle, 
and yet not the Rock on which the Church is to be built. It 
is enough for thee to have found the Rock, and to have 
built on the one Foundation.' What follows as to ' the keys 
of the kingdom of Heaven,' and the power to bind and to loose, 
is, as is shewn in the notes that follow, equivalent to the 
recognition of the disciple's faith as qualifying him for the 
office of a scribe 'instructed for the Kingdom of Heaven, 
bringing out of his treasure things new and old' (Matt. xiii. 
52), declaring, as Hillel and Shammai had declared, but 

Romanism. . 19 

that that promise conveyed to him a personal 
infallibility, and that that infallibility was to 
be transmitted to his successors, and that those 
successors are to be found only in the Bishops 
of Rome. The respect paid in the early ages 
of the. Church to the Bishop of the imperial 
city is transformed into an admission of his 
absolute authority. The influence exercised 
by the higher culture and central position of 
the Church of Rome over the half-barbarous 
nations of mediaeval Christendom an in- 
fluence strengthened by what we may freely 
recognise as a true missionary activity and the 
witness borne for a divine order against the 
tyranny of brute force and secular domina- 
tionis treated as if it could give the sanction 
of the consenszts of at least European Chris- 
tianity to a fantastic interpretation of Scrip- 
ture and a false reading of antiquity. The 
claim resolves itself at last into the ct, priori 
assumption that there must be an infallible 

with a higher authority resting on divine gifts, what precepts 
of the law or traditions of the elders were, or were not, of 
permanent obligation." See Bishop Ellicott's New Testament 
Commentary in loc. 


2O Romanism. 

guide somewhere, and .that the only church 
which assumes to be such a guide must ipso 
facto be warranted in its assumption. The 
earth rests on the elephant, and the elephant 
on the tortoise, and the tortoise rests not on 
the eternal rock of fact, but on the cloudland 
of a dream. 

The counter argument from scripture or 
from history shatters the edifice which has 
been raised on this unsubstantial and shadowy 
foundation 1 . Whatever prominence may be 
given to Peter in the history of the Apostolic 
Church, it is that gained by energy, activity, 
great gifts and greater love, and not by any 
freedom from error or supreme authority. No 
trace of either is found in the primitive re- 

1 His name stands, it is true, at the head of the list of the 
Twelve in the Synoptic Gospels and the Acts, but that it is 
but as primus inter pares, and that the promise of Matt. xvi. 
r8 was not thought of as conferring more than this, is shewn 
by the fact that it was after this that the two sons of 
Zebedee came with their request to sit at their Lord's right 
hand and His left in His kingdom (Matt. xx. 20, 21; 
Mark x. 35), and that there were two disputes which was 
greatest (Luke ix. 47, xxii. 24). The emphatic words 
"Many that are first shall be last, and the last first" (Matt. 
xix. 30), might well seem to rebuke any claim to a personal, 
and permanent primacy of power. 

.Romanism. 21 

cords of the Church of Christ. The impulsive, 
wayward disciple during our Lord's ministry 
on earth, now venturing on the troubled sea, 
and now sinking through his want of faith 1 , 
uttering words which indicate an almost child- 
like ignorance of the Lord's mind ancj pur- 
pose 2 , denying, in the paroxysm of a coward 
fear, Him whom he had acknowledged to be 
the very Son of the living God, having the 
words of eternal life this is surely not what 
we should have pictured for ourselves as the 
Apostle who was to present to men the type 
of an unerring steadfastness. The Pentecostal 
gift brought doubtless to him as to others, but 
not to him more than others, wider thoughts 
and a new illumination, but the old vacilla- 
tion and infirmity remained, and the Apostle 
by whom the door of faith had been opened 
to the Gentiles, was condemned alike by the 
feeling of the Church and by the mouth of 
one to whom had been given a larger wisdom 

than his own 3 . In his conferences with that 

1 Matt. xiv. 28 31. ' 

2 Matt. xv. 15, xvi. 22, xvii. 5, xviii. 21. 

3 "I withstood him to the face, because he had been con- 
demned (on Kareyvuff^vos tji')." Gal. ii. li. 

22 Romanism. 

other Apostle he appears as receiving, not as 
imparting, the full truth of the mystery of 
God and the universality of His kingdom 1 . 
In the first great controversy whichthreatened 
to break up the unity of the Church there is no 
appeal, as, on the Roman theory, there should 
have been, to his decision as final and supreme. 
He speaks, it is true, wisely and rightly, but it 
is as one debater among many, and the decision 
rests not with him, but with the Apostles and 
elders and the lay members of the Church 2 . 

It seems almost surplusage of argument 
to go beyond this, but it may be added, that 
even if the position of St Peter had been 
other than it was, there is not one jot or tittle 
of evidence in the writings of the New Testa- 
ment or those of the age that followed it, to 
connect him with the pastoral superintendence 
of the Church of Rome. The foundation of 
that Church is traceable not to him or to 
St Paul but to obscurer and less honoured 

1 Gal. ii. 2, 6. 

2 Acts xv. 7, 14, 23. As Peter, according to the Romish 
hypothesis, had already entered on the years of his Episco-* 
pate in the imperial city, this absence of any recognition of his 
supreme authority is all the more striking. 

' ' Romanism. 23 

"preachers of the truth, perhaps to Aquila or 
Andronicus or Junias 1 , perhaps to workers of 
whose very names not a record has come down 
to us. Had he assumed a supreme authority 
in that Church he would have been, to use his 
own expressive term, as an aXXorpjoeTn'o-- 


/eo7ro<? 2 , a bishop in a diocese not his own, even 
as those who claim to be his successors have, 
as in the strange irony of history, shewn 
themselves to be aXXoT/Moe-TrioveoTrofc in every 
Church in Christendom. The history of those 

1 It is a natural inference from the absence of any records 
of Aquila's conversion, as well as from, his immediate readi- 
ness to fraternize with St Paul, that he already shared the 
Apostle's faith, and this at least falls in with the hypothesis, 
now generally received, that the expulsion of the Jews from 
Rome was connected with tumults in which the name of 
Christ (which we recognise in the " impulsore Chreslo " of 
Suetonius (Claud, c. 25) had been bandied to and fro 
between opposing parties. Of Andronicus and Junias we 
know that they were Roman Christians, and that their conver- 
sion to the faith had preceded the conversion of St Paul, and 
must therefore have been earlier than the persecution which 
culminated in the death of Stephen (Rom. xvi. 7). The 
chief opponents of Stephen, it will be remembered, were the 
libertini, or emancipated Jews, and proselytes from Rome 
who had a synagogue at Jerusalem (Acts vi. 9), and there are 
some reasons for connecting the martyr himself with the 
imperial city. See Bishop Ellicott's Commentary on Acts vi. 5. 

2 i Pet. iv. 15. 

24 Romanism. . 

successors, the work they have done for good 
or evil, in the history of the Church is, I need 
scarcely say, incompatible with the claim. 
Popes have lapsed into what other Popes have 
condemned as heresy. They have stultified 
themselves by flagrant contradictions on facts 
of criticism or history 1 . Personal vices or a 
persistent policy of ambition and intrigue 
may, perhaps, be theoretically compatible 
with an official infallibility, assuming its .exist- 
ence to be proved, but they are but unsatis- 

1 The more familiar cases are those of Liberius, who 
subscribed the Arian Creed at the third Council of Sirmium 
(A. r>. 357), and Honorius, who was condemned as holding 
the Monothelite heresy by the sixth General Council at 
Constantinople (A.D. 680), and by -his successor Leo II. 
Other instances will be found in the volume on The Pope and 
the Council by the writer who took the nom de flume of 
Janus. The advocates of Rome have, of course, a case 
which they maintain, with more or less ability, against the 
verdict of history, but the one fact which emerges, even ad- 
mitting the success of efforts to whitewash the individual 
Popes, is that no one then dreamt of the office as identified 
with infallibility. The well-known Belhim Papale of the 
Sixtine and Clementine editions of the Vulgate, each stamped 
with an ex cathedrd authority, and containing some 3000 
variations in their texts, remains as a witness that the claim 
which had by that time been made could not bear the test of 
even superficial criticism. (See Dr Westcott's Article, 
Vulgate, in Smith's Dictionary of the Bible.} 

Romanism. 25 

factory accompaniments of its possession, 
and are poor credentials of the mission of one 
who assumes to speak as the oracle of God. If 
the test " by their fruits ye shall know them" is, 
in any measure, a true test, there are, at least, 
many in the long list of Pontiffs who must 
take their place among the false prophets who 
are as ravening wolves, and not among the 
preachers of righteousness and the witnesses . 
for the truth. And it is a singular outcome 
of the claim to be the one witness and keeper 
of the Word of God, the one interpreter of 
its mysteries, that no church in Christendom 
has done so little for settling the Ganon or 
unfolding the meaning of Scripture as the 
Church of Rome, that none in that Church 
have done so little as its long line of Bishops 1 . 
We might have expected the one pattern- 

1 Chillingworth's answer to the argument drawn by 
the advocates of Rome from the difficulties of Scripture, and 
the consequent necessity for some authorized and unerring 
interpreter, is pointed enough to deserve quotation. If the 
Pope possesses this power, he asks, why does he not write a 
Commentary? "Why not seat himself in cathedrd, and 
fall to writing expositions upon the Bible for the direction of 
Christians to the true sense of it?" Religion of Protestants, 
I. II. 95- 

26 Romanism. 

scribe instructed to the kingdom to have 
brought forth from his treasure "things new 
and old." As a matter of fact he has too often 
closed the doors of the treasure-house against 
those who were seeking to enter in ; he has 
brought out, not the pearls and precious 
stones of truth, but the rubbish of the false 
Decretals and of wildly fantastic interpreta- 
tions 1 . The work of settling what books were 
entitled to canonical authority, what text of 
those books was authentic, was left in earlier, 
as in later times, to private judgment, work- 
ing on the data supplied by history and 
criticism. Councils followed in the wake of 

1 No thoughtful student of Scripture will take a low 
estimate of the work done by many individual interpreters of 
the Church of Rome. The names of Aquinas and de 
Lyra, of Maldonatus and Estius, of Cornelius a Lapide 
and Calmet, are worthy of all honour. But when we pass 
from these "particular persons," following Butler's method, 
to the writings of the Bishops of Rome, we have to fall back 
upon such expositions as we find, e.g. in the Bull " Unam 
Sanctam" of Boniface VIII., in which the "two great lights" 
of Gen. i. 16 are made to represent the spiritual and tem- 
poral powers as impersonated in the Pope and the Emperor, 
and the Magna Moralia of Gregory I., in which the seven 
sons of Job represent the "ordo praedicantium" and his 
three daughters the "tnultitudo audientium" 

Romanism. '27 

scholars and confirmed their decisions 1 . The 
work of interpretation has from the first been 
carried on, as it will be to the end, not by 
Popes or Councils, but by the exercise of the 
individual intellect guided, in greater or less 
measure, by the illumining grace of the 
Eternal Spirit; dwelling on the meaning of the 
words and the sequence of thoughts, on the 
character, environment, and purpose of the 
writer whom we interpret ; or, to use Butler's 
words, " in the same way as natural knowledge 
is come at, by the continuance and progress of 
learning and of liberty; by particular persons 
attending to, comparing and pursuing, intima- 
tions scattered up and down it, which are over- 
looked and disregarded by the generality of the 
world. For this is the way m which all improve- 

1 When it is said that we receive Scripture on the 
authority of the Church, it should be remembered that the 
work of tylelito of Sardis, of Origen, of the author of the 
Muratorian Fragment, of Eusebius of Caesarea preceded the 
earliest authenticated lists drawn up by the Council of 
Laodicea (circ. A. D. 363) and the third Council of Carthage 
(A.D. 397). The actual order is in accordance with the 
natural course of things, and not with that demanded by 
a hypothesis : (i) general currency and acceptance, (2) indi- 
vidual scrutiny, (3) authoritative determination. 

28 Romanism. 

ments are made ; by thoughtful men tracing 
on obscure hints,, as it were, dropped us by 
nature accidentally, or which seem to come 
into our minds by chance." (Anal. II. 3.) 

It cannot be doubted, however, that, as a 
matter of fact, the Roman Communion has 
exercised influences of another kind over 
minds differently constituted from the en- 
quirers who seek simply for intellectual cer- 
tainty. The long history that stretches back 
into the remote past the wide extent of her 
sway and the apparent unity that rests on 
her central authority the stately impressive- 
ness of her. ritual, affecting the imagination 
through the senses and the emotions through 
the imagination the provision which she 
makes for sin-burdened consciences by her 
system of confession and absolution the 
hope which she offers to those who mourn 
for their dead, of a remedial and purifying 
discipline after death bringing to complete- 
ness the holiness without which no man shall 
see the Lord, and which, when their earthly 
course was finished was but incomplete and 

Romanism. 29 

almost rudimentary the -high ideal of saintly 
and self-devoted life which, has been aimed 
at and not seldom realised, in her religious 
communities of men and women all this, we 
know but too well, has exercised its power 
of fascination over weak and unstable natures ; 
sometimes, we must admit, over those whom 
we could not so describe without an arrogant 
injustice. But to those who are, in greater 
or less measure, under the influence of these 
attractions, we may say that, so far as they 
are legitimate in their action, they are not the 
exclusive heritage of Rome, that it is to her 
misuse of them that we may largely trace 
the neglect of them which has, it may be, 
too largely characterised the Churches that 
have separated from her. It has been one, 
at least, of the gains, balancing some serious 
drawbacks, of the so-called Catholic revival 
of the last fifty years that it has given a 
brighter and more joyous character to our 
worship; that it has taught us that Art in all 
its manifold applications to sight and hearing 
may legitimately be employed to stir up the 

3O Romanism. 

dull minds of men to soar heavenwards even 
on the wings of sense, that we have learnt 
from it that the highest act of Christian wor- 
ship, that which is the witness of our com- 
munion and fellowship with all who name 
the name of Christ on earth, and with the 
saints who have passed to their eternal home, 
with angels and archangels and all the com- 
pany of Heaven, need not be in its outward 
accompaniments the most cold and lifeless 
act of all 1 . It has led men, if not always 
wisely, yet with an earnestness which deserves 
all praise, to feel that the ministry of souls 
involves something more than sermons how- 
ever earnest, and calls for the personal con- 

1 I am not, of course, defending any special form of 
ritual, still less any which is at variance with the decisions 
of the tribunal which, whether we admit the force of its 
reasonings or not, is for us, as English Churchmen, at least 
for the present, the authoritative exponent of the Rubrics of 
the Prayer-Book. But it is impossible to compare the type 
of worship which now prevails among us with that which was 
all but universally dominant till within the last . forty years, 
without feeling that there has been a great change for the 
better, and that this has been wrought out by those who at 
nearly every stage have had to encounter the brunt of sus- 
picion and distrust, sometimes even of mob violence and 
irritating prosecutions. , 

Romanism. 3 1 

tact of mind with mind and heart with heart, 
for the outpouring of the confession of the 
sin-burdened soul and the words of comfort 
and counsel that bring home to the penitent 
the assurance of pardon and absolution 1 . It 

1 I have stated elsewhere, in a Sermon on Confession and 
Absolution, the reasons which lead me to look on this element 
in the work of the ministry as belonging to its prophetical 
rather than its priestly character. The "drawbacks" to 
which I refer are, I need scarcely say, the tendency which 
has shewed itself among those who adopt the practice to 
follow the guidance of Romish casuists, like Dens or Liguori, 
rather than that of the wiser masters of the School of Con- 
science, and to dwell with a minuteness, prurient in its results, 
if not in its intention, as in the too conspicuous instance of 
the Priest in Absolution, on the "things done in secret," of 
which "it is a shame to speak." That tendency one may 
deplore and protest against, but in the popular outcry raised 
on the strength of it against the practice of Confession, from 
the journalism of the Clubs and the oratory of platforms to 
the street-hawkers of pamphlets with suggestive extracts, I 
find nothing that can deserve our sympathy, much that I 
cannot regard as other than the product of the hypocrisy 
which is content that the things in question should be donfe so 
long as they are not spoken of. It is not an exaggeration to 
say that there is a greater element of corruption in any one of 
the thousand provincial newspapers which are published, 
week by week, without let or hindrance, than in the work 
which became a nine days' wonder. It is surely an unsatis- 
factory outcome of Protestantism that it should prefer that 
those who have fallen into sensuous sins should "open their 
grief" to the counsellors who thus invite their confidence 
rather than pour out their sorrow and shame to the ministers 
of Christ. See an interesting Article on Confession by Dr 
Cornell in the Contemporary Review for March, 1879. 

32 Romanism. 

has in many ways revived the idea and the 
practice of associated and consecrated labour 
for God's glory and the good of men in 
fraternities and sisterhoods and guilds, with- 
out the snare of vows of perpetual obligation. 
It has given a new impetus to the Church's 
mission work, both as evangelising the heathen 
in far-off lands and preaching Christ to those 
who, though they live and die under the very 
shadow of the Churches, have lapsed into a 
practical heathenism and need to be taught 1 
what are the first principles of the oracles of 
God. Mingling with a current of thought, 
which in its main drift, started from a differ- 
ent quarter, and flows in an opposite direc- 


tion, it has led us to look into the dim region 
that lies behind the veil with a wider hope 
than our fathers dared to cherish, and to be- 
lieve that there also, wherever there is yet 
the capacity for a higher life, the everlasting 
Love is not willing that .any should perish 
but that all should come to repentance 1 . 

1 I refer, of course, to the "wider hope" which cherishes 
the thought that the education of the soul, that it may be fit 

Romanism. 33 

No, we do ill, even looking at Rome on 
her best and brightest side, to ask impatiently 
and unwisely, why the former days were better 
than the latter. And, on the other side of 
the account, she comes before the tribunal of 
History and of Truth heavily weighted .with 
many serious charges from which ! even the 
subtlest eloquence of her advocates will find it 
hard to clear her. She has darkened counsel 
by words without knowledge, and in her en- 
deavours to formulate the fact of Christ's 
spiritual presence with His people, has over- 
shadowed it with the cumbrous theories of 
substance and accidents that belong to an 
obsolete philosophy. She has pushed those 
theories to their logical result in practice, and 
has called men to acts of adoration, of which 
it is hard to say, even while we shrink from 
the harsh words of condemnation which our 

for the mansions of its Father does not cease at the moment 
of death, and that there may be behind the veil new stirrings 
of repentance and apprehensions of the truth and growth 
in holiness, of which Mr Maurice was, if one may so speak, 
the proto-martyr, and which has since been advocated in 
various forms by Mr Wilson, Mr Kingsley, Professor Grote, 
and Dr Farrar. 

P. S. 3 

34 Romanism. 

fathers thought themselves justified in using 
in the heat of conflict, that they do not bring 
with them at least the peril of idolatry, i.e. of 
the substitution of the symbol for the thing 
symbolised, of a sensuous for a spiritual wor- 
ship. She has taught men practically to trust 
to the intercession, the patronage, the pro- 
tection of created mediators who, in their 
turn, have been presented as objects of de- 
votion through outward forms, in painting or 
in sculpture 1 . She has by her doctrine of 

1 The ' 'Monstra te esse Matrem " of the hymn in the Office 
of the Blessed Virgin is strong enough as an illustration of 
the tendency of which I speak, but it has been shewn that it 
is but as the germ of a monstrous growth of Mariolatry which 
is practically becoming more and more the religion of France 
and Italy and Spain. Proofs enough and to spare may be 
found in Dr Pusey's Eirenicon or an anonymous pam- 
phlet, written, I believe, by the late Rev. W. E. Jelf, 
A Review of Mariolatry (Rivingtons, 1869). It is not with- 
out interest to note that the extracts given by Dr Pusey from 
works published with more or less authority from Roman 
Catholic Bishops, and in wide use throughout their flocks, are 
enough to move even Dr Newman to language almost as 
strong as any Protestant could desire: "I consider them cal- 
culated to prejudice enquirers, to frighten the unlearned, to 
unsettle consciences, to provoke blasphemies, to work the 
loss of souls....! know not to what authority to go for them 
to Scripture, or to the Holy Fathers, to the decrees of 
Councils, or to the consent of Schools, or to the tradition of 
the faithful, or to reason" (Letter to Dr Pusey, pp. 120, 11 1.) 

Romanism. 35 

purgatory and her practice of indulgences 
turned the Gospel message of pardon and 
peace into a narcotic for the conscience not 
seldom into a source of ill-gotten gain and 
an instrument of spiritual oppression. She 
has accustomed men to a worship in a speech 
which they cannot understand, into which 
they at least cannot enter with the fulness of 
thought and speech which is found only when 
men pray in the language in which they 
.think, and, as if reversing the Pentecostal 
wonder, has decreed that they should not 
hear, every man in his own tongue, wherein 
they were born, the wonderful works of God. 
If Protestant Churches and sects have shared 
with her, as they have but too largely shared, 
in the guilt of a persecuting intolerance, upon 
her rests the blame of having led the way, of 
having made men accept almost as an axiom, 
from which it required centuries of freedom to 
clear their * long-abused vision,' that religious 
error is a crime, to be punished like other 
crimes, of having carried that principle age 

after age to results by the side of which all 


36 Romanism. 

other acts of persecution dwindle into in- 
significance 1 . 

1 The first blood shed in the name of religious truth was, 
it may be noted, that of Priscillian, a Spanish Bishop, who 
had embraced some form of Manichaean or Gnostic opinion, 
and was put to death by the usurper Maximus (A.D. 385). 
The employment of the civil sword was .condemned in 
strong and earnest terms by St Ambrose and St Martin of 
Tours, the former of whom refused to communicate with the 
Bishops who had been the advisers of the act or sharers in it. 
The Bishop of Rome, however, Leo II., sanctioned the fatal 
principle of recourse to the secular arm. The Church, 
"quae, etsi sacerdotali contenta judicio, cruentas refugit 
ultiones, severis tamen Christianorum principum constitu- 
tionibus adjuvatur, dum ad spiritale nonnunquam recur- 
runt remedium, qui timent corporale supplicium" (Milman's 
Latin Christianity, B. n. c. 4). In that fatal "nonnun- 
quam," that sacrifice of the law of Christ for the chance of 
an uncertain gain, we find the germ-cell (to return once 
more to the metaphor naturally suggested by the Theory of 
Development) out of which have come in terrible succession 
the slaughter of the Albigenses, the Auto-da-fe's of Spain, the 
massacre of St Bartholomew, the fires of Smithfield, the 
Dragonnades under Louis XIV., the long torturing tyranny 
of the Inquisition. How hard it was to throw off the incubus 
of the irpwrov ^evSos we find but too plainly in .the action of 
Anglican Reformers under Henry VIII. and Elizabeth, of 
Calvin in the execution of Servetus, of Scotch Presbyterians, 
and the Courts of the Star Chamber and High Commission. 
Perhaps, however, the crowning instance of the power of the 
evil demon to return even to the house from which it had been 
cast out is seen in Chillingworth. He, who in the Religion 
of Protestants had claimed an almost unlimited freedom, and 
written strongly against the persecuting policy of the Church 
of Rome, came within a few short years to "count it a 
greater happiness than God had granted to his chosen ser- 

Romanism. 37 

I know not how far any of you may have 
felt the power of that spell which has fasci- 
nated not a few ardent and eager spirits, 
which has led some to fear and some to hope 
that the tide was turning, and that the wave 
which we had watched in its slow retreat for 
three hundred years, was creeping in again 
in creeks and bays, and was about to sub- 
merge once more many fair fields of thought 
and action. I have not sought to speak in 
accents of alarm still less to urge the policy 
of jealousy and suspicion, which originates 
in panic and does but augment the danger. 
But we cannot close our eyes to the fact that 
the danger exists. The former .days will, in 
a time of bewilderment and controversy and 
doubt, seem to some better than the latter. 
And therefore, I trust I shall not seem to 
have misused the opportunity which has been 
given me, by urging those who have listened 
to the voice of the charmer, to reconsider that 

vants in the infancy of the Church that we now have the 
sword of the civil magistrate, the power and enforcement of 
laws and statutes, to maintain our precious faith against all 
heretical and schismatical oppngners-thereof" (Sermons,\i. 15). 


conclusion. There is a heavy onus probandi 
on all resolves to abandon the position in 
which God has placed us before we have 
made full proof of all the openings it presents 
for the advancement of our own spiritual life, 
and the welfare of those among whom we 
are called to work. England, and the Church 
which is identified with the life of England, 
are, for us at least, the Sparta which God 
has given us to beautify and set in order, 
and it would be ill done to desert our post 
and to take our flight on the wings of scep- 
ticism into the abysmal depths of supersti- 


S. MATT. xii. 30. 

He that is not with me is against me ; and 
he that gathereth not with me scattereth 

S. LUKE ix. 50. 

Forbid him not: for he that is not against us 
is for us. 

IT is obvious that the two utterances which I 
have read seem, at first sight, to tend in 
opposite directions. ; The one might well 
become the basis of a wider and more com- 
prehensive Catholicity than any Church of 
Christendom has as yet attained to. The other 
might appear to sanction the most rigorous 
measures to enforce uniformity, and to repress 
every form of schism and dissent. We need, 

40 Protestantism. 

in the enquiry on which we enter to-day, yet 
more in the part which every one of us will 
some day have to play in relation to parties 
within the Church's pale or to sects outside it, 
to interpret rightly what Bacon has well called 
these " cross-clauses of the league of Chris- 
tians 1 ." It is, for good or evil, the character- 
istic feature of Protestantism that it has been 
fruitful in these variations. It has been 
marked, if one may so speak, by the hyper- 
trophy of individualism, as the history of the 
Church of Rome has been .marked by its 

It will be noted as a help to a right under- 
standing of our Lord's words that both the 
passages which I have cited were spoken 
primarily in connexion with the work of cast- 
ing out demons. I need not now enter into 
the vexed question of the nature of that 
demoniac possession. It is enough for our 
present purpose to recognise its phenomena 
without involving ourselves in any disputable 
theory of causation. Those phenomena are, 
1 Bacon's Essays, in. Of Unity in Religion. 

. Protestantism. 4* 

beyond dispute, identical with many that we 
now connect with the idea of morbid condi- 
tions of brain or nerve, of spiritual states that 
lie on the very verge of insanity. There is a 
strange dualism in the nature which should 
be at unity within itself. Alternate paroxysms 
of fear and hate, and love and adoration a 
preternatural insight and a reckless disregard 
of the conventional, restraints of life -wild or 
ceaseless cries, or persistent and sullen si- 
lence these are the features that present 
themselves even to the most superficial reader 
of the Gospel records 1 . On these our Lord 
looked as with an infinite compassion, and 
made it one chief object of His work to heal 
the evils which thus met His gaze. And it 
was seen that His word was with power. The 
disorder was, in the main, spiritual, and yield- 
ed to spiritual and not to physical remedies. 
The loving look the gracious welcome the 
recognition of the true humanity which lay 
beneath the wild conflict of the legion of 

1 See Trench on the Miracles, v. The Demoniacs in the 
country of the Gadarenes ; or Excurstis on Matt. viii. 28 in 
Bishop Ellicott's New Testament Commentary. 

42 Protestantism. 

tempestuous passions these had power to 
cast out the demon forces, and to change the 
wild howling maniac into a disciple, sitting at 
the feet of Jesus, clothed and in his right 
mind ; to bring to the fevered spirit the peace 
and the sweet sleep which no poppies or man- 
dragora could have ministered. And what 
the Lord Jesus did Himself, that He taught 
His disciples also to do. It was His first 
commission to them, that, as they preached 
the Gospel of the Kingdom, they were to heal 
the sick and to cast out devils. Their chief 
ground of joy when they returned was that 
even the devils were subject to them through 
His Name. Their exultation had its counter- 
part in His joy. He saw in this the pledge 
and earnest of His future victory over the 
powers of evil He beheld as in vision Satan, 
" as lightning, fall from heaven," cast out from 
his usurped dominion in the "heavenly places" 
of the mind and will of man 1 . 

Those who saw or heard of this work 
looked on it, the Gospel records tell us, with 

1 Matt. x. i; Mark iii. 15; Luke x. 17, 185 Eph. vL 12. 

Protestantism. 43 

widely different feelings. The Scribes and 
Pharisees felt no sympathy with it. It mat- 
tered not to them whether the Gadarene 
demoniac remained in chains and fetters, 
howling in the tombs, or returned to his own 
home as in the peace of God. What did 
matter was that the power was exercised by 
One who was not of their school and had 
rebuked their hypocrisy. They stood aghast 
at the proof thus given of the presence among 
them of a spiritual power mightier than their 
own. That it was a spiritual, preternatural 
power they could not, even from their own 
stand-point, deny, and they ventured on the 
horrible paradox that the good work was 
wrought by the Power of Evil, that the libera- 
tion of the human spirit from its bondage had 
its source in the subtlety of the great oppressor. 
" He casteth out devils by Beelzebub," was 
their solution of the problem which presented 
itself. On the temper that thus judged there 
was passed the sentence, " He that is not with 
me is against me, and he that gathereth not 
with me scattereth abroad." It approximated, 

44 Protestantism. 

with an awful nearness, to the sin of intense 
persistent antagonism to goodness as such, 
slandering and resisting it, which, in its ulti- 
mate development, excludes forgiveness be- 
cause it excludes repentance 1 . In the great 
warfare of Christ against the power of evil, 
the end and aim of which was to rescue those 
who had been held as captives, and gather 
them into His Father's house, there could be 
no real neutrality. He that did not help to 
gather, whose heart beat with no yearning 
sympathy for those who were wandering and 
lost, was practically perpetuating the isolation 
and the misery which Christ sought to over- 
come. On others, however, what they heard 
of the works of the Christ produced a differ- 
ent impression. It stirred up dormant sym- 
pathies and roused into energy powers that 
had been latent. They too would use the 
prayer of faith and the Name that was mighty 
above all names, that so they might deliver 
those who had, it may be, for long years of 
their life, been subject unto bondage. They 
1 Matt. xii. 24 32; Mark iii. 2230; Luke xi. 14 20.. 

Protestantism. 45 

looked on the frenzied demon-haunted souls 
whom they met, with a compassion like that 
of Christ. And their words too were mighty 
and prevailed. Peace and calmness took the 
place of restle'ss agitation 1 . The man was 
gathered into the fold of that humanity from 
which he had strayed into the howling wilder- 
ness. Those who so worked had not as yet 
we know not for what reason joined them- 
selves to the company of the disciples that 
followed Jesus, but they shewed by using 
His name that they believed in Him, and by 
the purpose for which they used it that their 
mind was one with His. And therefore when 
the disciples sought to make that outward 
union an essential condition of any recogni- 

1 Mark ix. 38; Luke ix. 50. It is obvious that whatever 
we understand by "casting out devils" was actually accom- 
plished by those whom the disciple (St John) sought to 
restrain from working. This was true also, it would seem 
from our Lord's reasoning in Matt. xii. 27; Luke xi. 19, of 
the " children" or disciples of the Pharisees. To them also, 
if they were single-minded in their purpose, and used the 
name of the Most High God, not, like the vagabond exorcists 
of Ephesus, as a spell or charm, but in humility and faith, 
prayer brought a spiritual power to deliver which was 
mighty to prevail- against spiritual evil. 

46 Protestantism.' . 

tion of those who were thus working, they 
were met with words, which, under the form 
of a paradox, presented the opposite pole of 
the self-same truth. He that was not against 
Christ in that warfare with evil who was 
actually engaged in the conflict, though it 
might be in skirmishes that lay outside the 
plan of the regular campaign, was really an 
ally and not an enemy to be welcomed, not 
to be condemned. It was not among such as 
these that one would be found who would 
"lightly speak evil" of Him. 

The " cross clauses" of the league of 
Christians are thus seen to receive their prac- 
tical interpretation, not, as Bacon suggests 1 , in 

1 Bacon's Essays, in. "Both these extremes" (the zeal 
of the persecutor and Laodicean lukewarmness) ' ' are to be 
avoided; which will be done, if the league of Christians 
penned by our Saviour Himself were in the two cross-clauses 
thereof soundly and plainly expounded, ' he that is not with 
us is against us,' and again, ' he that is not against us is with 
us': that is, if the points fundamental, and of substance, in 
.religion, were truly discerned and distinguished from points 
not merely of faith, but of opinion, order and good intention. 
This is a thing may seem to many a matter trivial and done 
akeady ; but if it were done less partially, it would be em- 
braced more generally." The concluding words form a me- 
lancholy comment on many memorable passages in the con- 

Protestantism. 47 

a company of divines sitting round a table 
and examining which of the formulated after- 
thoughts of theology are to be classed as 
essential or non-essential, fundamentals or 
things indifferent, but in looking to the tem- 
per in which men are acting and the work 
which they are doing. Are they casting out 
devils, or slandering and thwarting those who 
do cast them out? Are they warring, to 
extend the principle in a way which all will 
surely recognise as legitimate, against the 
demon passions that desolate and make havoc 
of all that is best and noblest in man's nature 
against lust and hate and falsehood, against 
pride and injustice and oppression ? If so, 
the word of command still goes forth from 
the Lord of the Churches, " Forbid them not, 
for he that is not against us is for us." Are 
they among the upholders of traditional 
prejudices, the sneerers at enthusiasm, the 

troversies of Christendom. It would have been well for the 
Church at large, for our own National Church in particular, 
if this teaching had beea more acted on, but there is after all 
"a more excellent way" even thau moderation in fixing 

48 Protestantism. 

cavillers at details, among those who never 
hear of any earnest work for the souls of 
men without asking the Cuibono ? of a cynical 
suspicion ? For them, as for those who said 
of Christ that He cast out devils by Beelzebub, 
there is the condemnation, "He that is not 
for us is against us." 

The truth thus established is manifestly 
not without its bearing on our thoughts and 
feelings, even as to the system of the Church 
of Rome. There also we find, and may give 
God thanks that we do find, those who, not 
without success, have given themselves, in 
this form or in that, to the work of casting 
out devils. There also, for the most part in 
her high places of authority, we find those 
who have condemned men who were doing 
that work, almost in the very words in which 
the Pharisees condemned our Lord. We 
need, as far as lies in our power, to recognize 
the distinction between the two classes. 
Where we find, as in such characters as St 
Dominic, and Carlo Borromeo, and Francis 

ProtestantisiH. -49 

de Sales 1 , a strange blending of the two con- 
trasted elements, a warm tender illumined love 
" of souls mingled with a zeal; not according to 
knowledge, against the error or the truth which 
they looked on as hateful heresy, we must be 
content to leave the judgment which History 
.shrinks from pronouncing, to Him before 
whom the secrets of all hearts are as an open 
scroll from whom even the persecutor may 
obtain the mercy which he has refused -to 
others, on the ground that he has acted igno- 
rantly and in unbelief, not slighting conscience 
but misled by an invincible prepossession. 

We must feel, however, when we turn from 
the one vast system with its centralised unity 
to the manifold sects and .parties which popu- 
larly come under the common category of 


'* I write 'the two names not without reluctance, but It 
must be remembered that both were among the most ener- 
getic-leaders of the Anti-Reformation party in the sixteenth 
century t that Borromeo was the main author of the Catechism 
which popularised the teaching of the Council of Trent, and 
that he brought the Jesuits into Switzerland ; and that the 
70,000 converts whom the Bishop of Geneva was said to have 
brought back from the heresy of Calvin to the bosom of the 
Church were not gained altogether without the use of the 
.secular arm of the Duke of Savoy. 

P. S. A 

5'O -Protestantism. 

Protestantism, that we need the balance^ 
teaching of the twin precepts more than ever 
to direct our judgment and to guide our con- 
duct. For you to whom I speak, that is the 
one chief lesson to be learnt. There is pro- 
bably not one of you who has felt, or ever 
will feel, called on to discuss the question 
whether it is his duty to become a Wesleyan 
or a Congregationalist. How you are to 
judge and act towards Wesleyans and Con- 
gregationalists is a question which you can 
scarcely ignore with safety at any stage on 
your work, as laymen or as clergymen. 

I do not care to dwell at length on the 
question which has been raised, whether the 
Church of which we are members is itself 
rightly described as Protestant. Historically 
it may be true that the epithet is not alto- 
gether a happy one. In its origin it had little 
or no dogmatic significance. In its next 
stage it implied the acceptance of the Confes- 
sion of Augsburg as distinct from those of 
the Reformed Churches of France or Switzer- 
land agreement with Luther and Melancthon 

Protestantism. 5 1 

rather than with Calvin and Beza. In the 
wider range of connotation which it ulti- 
mately acquired it expressed little more than 
the negation of such errors as were distinctive 
of the Roman Communion. It has never 
been adopted by the Church of England in 
any formal statement of her position. If, at 
one time, it was accepted almost boastfully 
by some of her most conspicuous teachers 
by those even whom we regard as representa- 
tives of her more Catholic aspects, by Laud 
and Cosin no less than by Chillingworth and 
Tillotson, the title has lost something of its 
greatness by passing to viler uses 1 . It has 

1 The Edict of Worms (A.D. 1521) had condemned 
Luther in the strongest possible terms, and ordered rigorous 
measures to be taken throughout the Empire against him and 
his followers. At the Diet of Spires (A.D. 1526) the Reform- 
ing party obtained an /unanimous decree suspending the 
operation of that Edict, and urging a general Council as 
necessary for the peace and order of the Church. At the 
Second Diet of Spires (A.D. 1529) the Anti-Reform .party, bv 
a majority, repealed the decree of the First and thus restored 
the Edict of Worms to full activity. Against this decree six 
Princes and the deputies of fourteen imperial cities protested, 
partly on constitutional, partly on religious grounds. The 
name Protestants, first applied to them as so acting, soon 
spread to their followers. The earliest instance of its wider 
use beyond the limits of Germany with which I am acquainted 


t;i Protestantism. 

been made the plea for the intolerance of 
statesmen and the violence of mobs, and the 
panic and prejudices of the ignorant 1 . Those 
who were sunk in a life of worldliness, or who 
looked on the Established Church from a 

is in Ridley's speech on his trial: "Yea, I protest, call me 
Protestant who will." It probably grew in popularity under 
Elizabeth, and JBacon {Observations on a Libel} speaks of the 
" protestantical Church of England " as though it were a recogr 
nised phrase. The title of Chillingworth's book shews that 
it was adopted by the high Anglican party whom he repre- 
sented, Charles spoke of himself as a "Protestant king." 
Laud claimed the title for himself and Andrewes (Speech on 
his Trial}. Cosin, in his will, expressed his yearning after 
outward communion, his actual heart-communion, with foreign 
*' Protestants." The term was struck out of an address pre- 
sented to William III. by a vote of the Lower House of the 
Convocation of Canterbury, but retains its place in the 
Coronation Service in the promise of the Sovereign to main- 
tain the "Protestant religion." 

1 We look back with a half-sad, half-contemptuous won- 
der at the time when English Protestantism turned to Lord 
George Gordon, or Lord Eldon, or the Duke of Cumberland 
as its leaders, when the Duke of York's "So help me God !" 
speech was printed in letters of gold as if it had been an 
oracle from heaven. Are we quite certain that we are better 
than our fathers? The surplice riots at Exeter and St 
George's in the East, the recent scenes at Hatcham, the 
organised action of an Association which exists only for the 
purpose of promoting prosecutions about the " mint, anise 
and cummin" of obscure and obsolete rubrics, will not be 
bright spots for the future historians of the nineteenth cen- 
tury to dwell on. 

PrbtestantisM. 53 

political standpoint, simply as Established* 
have sheltered themselves under the profession 
of a zeal for its Protestant doctrines. At the 
best, the word carries with it a simply nega- 
tive aspect, and no mere negation can be 
an adequate bond of unity. There may be 
something to be said, however unattainable 
the ideal may be, for the dream of a union of 
religious societies on the basis of a common 
Christianity, but the basis of a common 

Protestantism is, of all things, the most f 

shadowy and unsubstantial. We may feel, as 

indeed we ought to feel, respect and gratitude, 
for those who, in past times, bore the burden 
and heat of a conflict in which we too were 
sharers, but an alliance, offensive and defen- 
sive, requires, as a condition of permanence, 
something more than hostility to a common>|L 
foe. We may recognise, with no grudging 
acceptance of the fact, that the tone of the 
dogmatic formularies of the Church of Eng- 
land is eminently protestant against the errors 
of that of Rome. We do well to avoid all 
supercilious scorn in our treatment of a word 

54 Protestantism. 

which was once honourable, and stirred the 
hearts of men like a trumpet, calling them to 
battle, but we need to add another term to it 
in order that it may define our position with 
any adequacy. Catholic first, and then be- 
cause Catholic, protestant against the coun- 
terfeit of Catholicity, is the only legitimate 
description of the position which our Church 
occupies in its relation to this controversy. 

Leaving this question of words and names, 
we pass on to ask what have been the main 
characteristics for good or evil, of those to 
whom, as having these at least, in common, 
the name of Protestant has been applied ; 
how far it is in our power to refuse the evil 
and to choose the good ; how we ought to deal 
with those who seem to us to have chosen the 
evil as well as the good, and perhaps in larger 
measure. It seems a true statement of these 
characteristics, true almost to the verge of 
being a truism, that they are found in the 
tendency to individualism, which in greater 
or less measure, has been found in these 
societies, or in extremest cases, in solitary 

Protestantism. 55 

thinkers who take their stand outside all so-r 
cieties. The right of the individual intellect 
to be the interpreter of Scripture, instead of 
accepting an interpretation g'iven as authori- 
tative by Pope, or Council, or Fathers, to go 
beyond this, and to judge of the evidence on 
which the authority of Scripture, or any part 
pf Scripture, itself rests, of the grounds on 
which we believe in the existence of God 
and of a Divine order resting on His will; 
this has been the distinguishing feature of 
the great movement which we recognise by 
the name of Protestant. If it has been sup- 
plemented, as in many cases it has been, by 
including the work of the Spirit as guiding 
and illumining the reason, which, left to itself, 
was admitted to be inadequate to the task 
,of discerning the mysteries of God, it has still 
been left to the individual intellect to deter- 
mine how far it possesses that illumination. 

It will hardly be questioned here that 

. this emancipation of the minds of men from 

.their long thraldom to an authority which 

might, at least, be usurped, resting on no 

56 Protestantism, 

legitimate foundation, was an immense step 
forward in the right direction. It was to 
theology what the recognition of the rights of 
the people was in the political history of the 
time. It stirred men to activity of thought 
and earnest enquiry instead of a blind acqui* 
escence in the order which they found ex- 
isting, or in the traditions which they had 
inherited from their fathers. It impressed 
them with the sense of a new responsibility 
as seekers after truth. If it brought new pro- 
blems and doubts and difficulties before their 
minds, it gave them at the same time courage 
to face those difficulties, and led them into 
the right path of investigation in the hope of 
a solution. It recognised that God reveals 
Himself to man through Reason, and Con- 
science, and Experience, no less really, though 
it might be less fully, than through Scripture 
and the Church, and taught men that the 
knowledge gained by that first Revelation 
was the test by which they were to judge 
of the meaning and credentials of the second. 
Even those who still urged the claims .of .au- 

Protestantism. . 57 

thority ,as against the endless variations of 
private judgment felt the power of the move- 
ment, and were compelled to give a new cha- 
racter to their arguments. Every plea for 
the infallible authority of Pope, or Church, 
or Scripture had to be submitted to the 
Reason which men were seeking to persuade 
to acknowledge its own impotence. Its free- 
dom was recognised up to the point when, in 
one supreme exercise of volition, it was to 
determine that it would be no longer free, and 
would thenceforth submit its judgment to the 
self-imposed power of the tribunal which it 
had learnt to look upon as final. 

We, in this place, shall hardly question 
that the gain of the movement which was 
thus characterised has more than balanced 


any incidental loss. Even if it had been 
otherwise, if the loss of unity, of peace, of the 
sense of certainty had been greater than 
it has been, it would still remain true that 
freedom is a nobler state than bondage, 
that there is a truer unity than that 
which rests on absolute uniformity in creed, y 

5 8 Protestantism-. 

that it is wrong, and not right, for the indi- 
vidual soul to disinherit itself of the gifts 
which it has received from God in order to 
avoid the responsibilities which those gifts 
bring with them. But the test "By their 
fruits ye shall know them" may be challenged 
without fear, as applicable not less to systems 
of thought and methods of enquiry than it is 
to individual teachers. The whole body of 
Apologetic literature in which the last three 
centuries have been fruitful beyond all com- 
parison with any past period of the history, of 
Christendom, and which has never been richer 
and more effective than in our time, what is 
it but the outcome of this recognition of what 
has been rightly called the "verifying faculty 1 " 

1 I borrow the phrase from Dr Rowland Williams's paper 
on Bunseris Biblical Researches in Essays and Reviews 
(p. 83). It was much attacked at the time by those who were 
alarmed at the tendency of that volume, and Augustine's 
maxim lt Ne corrigat acger medicamenta sua" was quoted 
against it. But it will be admitted that even the sick man 
chooses his physician according to the best evidence he can 
obtain, and that if he has not before him the prescription for 
his own individual case, but an unclassified Pharmacopoeia, 
he must exercise his discernment in deciding what medica- 
menta are suitable for his own maladies or those of 'others. 

Prbiest'anlisin*. 59 

within us, of Reason as the lamp which God 
has kindled in each man's soul, in order 
that by following its light, and living by it, 
we might attain to the perception of the 
higher light which He has manifested in 
Christ. If it had been from the first, the duty 
of "a Christian to give to every 'man who 
asked him a "reason of the hope" that was in 
him 1 , "an answer with meekness and fear," 
a duty which implied the right of the ques- 
tioner to ask that reason, we may say with- 
out boasting overmuch, that, at least on the 
intellectual side of the argument as distinct 
from the living personal experience, which 
translates arguments into -realities and con- 
firms outward evidence by that of the spirit 
within us, no age has been so well furnished 
as our own, with weapons, offensive and 
defensive, from the armoury of God ; that it 
is an inestimable gain, both as regards the 
attainment of truth and the maintenance of 
peace and goodwill in human societies, to 
have substituted these weapons for those of 

1 i Pet. iii. 15. 

60 Protestontisrit* 

the older warfare, for the rack, the scaffold 
and the stake, or, where men did not dare to 
venture on these, for political and social dis- 

Still greater, if possible, is the debt which 
we owe to the essential principle of Pro- 
testantism in its work on the interpretation 
of the writings whose claim to be the 
Oracles of God has thus been vindicated. 
In proportion as it has been true to itself, 
men have entered the house of the interpre- 
ter, and have passed through its richly gar- 
nished chambers and have brought out from 
its treasures things new and old, as well 
instructed scribes. It is not too much to say 
that under this method, we have made dis- 
coveries in the region of sacred literature no 
less than in that of natural science. Scripture 
has been seen to be a library and not a book 1 ; 
each volume in that library has been studied, 

1 The idea was indeed latent in the old title of the Vul- 
gate, Biblia Sacra, the plural noun which came in mediaeval 
Latinity to be taken as a feminine singular, and was expressed 
by the term Bibliolheca^ which Jerome himself applied to it* 
and which was freely used by writers of the Anglo-Saxon 

.Protestantism. 61 

as other books are studied, as having a his- 
tory and meaning of its own, fashioned by the 
mind of the writer, and the environment in 
the midst of which he lived, and the teaching 
which he ,had received from God. Each 
sentence in every book has received a new 
.meaning, because it has been no longer; treated 
as one of a great collection of texts to be 
'used in controversy, or as rules of life, but as 
part of an organic whole. The application 
of the results of the accurate study of lan- 
guage, of history, of character, of psychology, 
-has thrown light upon much that before was 
dark, and it is almost a truism to say that 
the life and words of Christ or of St Paul, 
of Abraham or David or Isaiah, have been 
brought before men in this age of ours with a 
clearness and vividness which were unknown 
to our fathers. You in this University may 
well count it as one of your special titles to the 
reverence of the English people that you, in 
the nineteenth century as in the seventeenth, 
have been foremost in this work, that you 
can claim as your children, not a few of the 

6> .Protestantism. 

most eminent of those who have acted on the 
principle of Protestantism in the temper of 
Catholicity, among whom I may perhaps 
venture to-day to recognise as one of the 
noblest of that goodly company, not of the 
* chief thirty ' only, but of the ' first three/ the 
teacher whose loss you will soon deplore, 
while the Church at large welcomes his entry 
on a new region of activity for his well trained 
powers 1 . 

Evil has, however, it cannot be denied, 
been mingled with the good. This assertion 
of individualism, of the right of private 

1 This sermon was preached on the Sunday after Dr 
Lightfoot had been designated as Bishop Baring's successor 
in the See of Durham. One who belongs to the sister 
University may freely recognise, without detracting from its 
special merits, the work which Cambridge has done from the 
sixteenth century downwards in the criticism and interpre- 
tation of Scripture. The list is a long one, and it will be 
sufficient to name among those belonging to the past, Cran- 
mer, Ridley, Latimer, Rogers (the translator of the Bible), 
Davenant, Fulke, the elder Lightfoot, Poole (of the Crittci 
Sacri and Synopsis), Walton (of the Polyglot Bible), Bishop 
Marsh ; and of those who come within our own times, Alford, 
, and Wordsworth, and Trench, and Ellicott, and Maurice 
(though here Oxford may claim a share), and Scrivener, and 
Perowne, and Farrar, and Howson, and Cook, and Lightfoot, 
and Hort, and Westcott. 

Protestantism. 63 

judgment as such, as distinct from its recog- 
nition as, a duty, for which we need, as for 
other duties, a special preparation, and 
which brings with it very solemn responsi- 
bilities, has had in the region of man's 
religious life, somewhat of the same disinte- 
grating effect as the assertion of the abstract 
rights of men has had in political society. 
The right so asserted has been exercised in 
the spirit of self-will, without the deference 
which is due, in this, as in all regions of in- 
quiry, from those who do not think and study 
to those who do, from the scholars of the 
lowest form to the masters of those who know, 
from the solitary dreamer to the consensus of 
those who look before and after. Men have 
claimed a direct illumination, as giving them 
not only a sufficient light by which to live, 
and so leading them to holiness, but as ena- 
bling them to understand all mysteries and all 
knowledge. They have inverted Augustine's 
ingenuous confession, Errare possum ; htzreti- 
cus esse nofo,a.nd taking for granted that they 
could not err, they have assumed a position of 

'64 Protestantism. 

aloofness from the Church which marlced 
them out, as in the true sense of the word, 
heretical. The results of this spirit are seen, 
I need not say, in the history of those varia- 
tions over which Romish controversialists 
have raised their song of triumph in schisms 
and disputes about the infinitely little, which 
should lie below man's care, or the infinitely 
great, which lies above his ken in the loss of 
all, or nearly all, sense that Christ came not 
only to redeem this soul and that from 'the 
penalty of sin, but to gather the souls "so 
redeemed into a great society with a corporate 
and perpetual life, with memories stretching- 
back into the past, and hopes reaching for- 
ward to the future. The " dissidence of Dis- 
sent 1 " has taken in men's thoughts the place 
of the Communion of Saints, and the one 
question which each one has been taught to 
ask himself has been " Am / saved from ever- 

1 The characteristic watchword, for many years, of the 
Nonconformist newspaper. It has now, however, been with- 
drawn. Gutta cavat lapidem, and. the scefe cadendo of Mr 
Matthew Arnold's gentle iteration would seem to have 
achieved its victory. -. 


lasting torments" rather than "am I living as 
a child of the Kingdom, a citizen of the 
heavenly City?" 

Not seldom, also, in the history of Protest- 
antism, has it proved untrue to itself. " It had 
rejected the authority of an infallible Pope or 
an infallible Church, but the spirit which it 
had cast but returned, and instead of believ- 
ing, in the quietness and confidence of faith, 
that the Word of God would prove itself to 
be true to those who tried it rightly, it assum- 
ed that the books that contained that Word 
were infallible in all things. It condemned 
in advance, as impious and unbelieving, all 
conclusions in history or science which seemed 
at variance with any part of its teaching all 


expansions in doctrine, or discipline or ritual 
which could not be found in some definite 
form within its pages. Lavishing what Hooker 
has well called "incredible praises"* on Holy 

1 Hooker, Eccl. Polity, II. VIII. 7. "And as incredible - 
praises given unto men do often abate and impair the credit 
of their deserved commendation; so we must likewise take 
great heed, lest in attributing unto Scripture more than it 
can have, the incredibility of that do cause even those things 
which indeed it hath most abundantly, to be less generally 

p, s. 5 

66 Protestantism. 

Scripture, they turned it into an idol to which 
they paid a blind and unreasoning homage, 
ascribing to it a character which it does not 
claim for itself, and using it for purposes for 
which it was not needed, for which also its 
very form or fashion might have shewn that 
it was never intended. 

The history of the relations between the 
Church of England and these latter aspects 
of Protestantism has not been a very happy 
or creditable history. We cannot study the 
bearing of the great Puritan party, to which 
we may look as the parent of all later forms 
of Dissent, without seeing that there were 
in it many elements of nobleness. Its very 
name in itself a far grander name than Pro- 
testant bore its witness, though given, it 
might be, in derision, of a high ideal of purity 
in doctrine, in worship and in morals l . The 

1 It would be interesting here also, as in the case of 
Protestant, to trace the genesis of the name, who first used it, 
when it first appeared, and the like. Historians, however, 
even Neal, are vague on these points, and we learn little 
more than that the party that desired a further reformation of 
the doctrine, discipline, and ritual, of the Church of England, 
began about A.D. 1564 to be known as Puritans. In Shake- 

Protestantism. 67 

men who were so described were marked by 
an intensity of faith which has seldom been 
seen working on so large a scale since the 
first ages of the Church. Sin and holiness, 
and pardon and peace, and heaven and hell, 
were to them intense realities. They were 
as the salt of the nation, preserving it from 
the putrescence with which it was threatened 
by the revived paganism and sensualism of 
the Renaissance. They fought for the civil 
as well as the religious liberties of English- 
men against a tyranny that was at once eccle- 
siastical and Erastian 1 . Even their Sab- 

speare's Twelfth Night (written between 1590-1602) in which 
Malvolio is described as "a kind of Puritan" (Act II. 3), it 
appears as a current-term of reproach. The title-page of a 
Life of Joseph Alleyne by C. Stanford (1873) gives, as a 
quotatipn from Erasmus, the words: Sit anima mea cum 
Puritanis Anglicanis. No reference is given, and I have 
been unable to verify the passage. Assuming its genuine- 
ness it would seem to imply that the term had been ap- 
plied, perhaps, even then, with something of a sneer, to 
the Oxford Reformers, and that More and Colet were the 
first bearers of the name. 

1 It will hardly be contended, even by the warmest ad- 

mirers of the Anglican party under the Stuart regime, that 

the Starchamber and High Commission Courts, dominant as 

was Laud's influence in them, were true Church tribunals in 

their constitution. Even " His Majesty's Declaration " pre- 


68 Protestantism. 

batarianisfn, overstrained and Judaising as it 
was, stands out in honourable contrast with 
the coarse comedies and the brutal bear- 
baitings which were then the recognised re- 
creation of an English Sunday. But with this 
there was all -the narrowness that grows out 
of ignorance and panic. They sought to ob- 
literate all traces of the continuity of the 
Church's life, and took fright at things that 
were absolutely indifferent because they had 
belonged to its pre-reformation period 1 . 
They acted too often in the very spirit of 

fixed to the Thirty-nine Articles, though interesting "as the 
first example of a ' Broad Church ' comprehensiveness in the 
interpretation of dogmatic formulae, assumes, in "prohibiting 
the least difference from the said Articles, not suffering 
unnecessary disputations, altercations, or questions to be 
raised," and decreeing that "all further curious search be 
laid aside," an authority more in harmony with the theory 
of the Swiss physician whom we know as Erastus (Thomas 
Liebler, of the Swiss Baden) than with either the Episcopal or 
Presbyterian ' platform ' of Church polity. 

1 The vestments, the surplice, the sign of the cross, the 
position of the Lord's Table, the use of chanting and instru- 
mental musics the ring in marriage, were among the most 
prominent of the adiapltora, round which the battle of con- 
troversy raged in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. 
Here, too, it would seem that the prejudices and passions of 
the .past have a potent vitality. 

Protestantism, 69 

sectarianism. . When they had their brief hour 
of triumphj they used it without pity, and 
shewed that the spirit of intolerance survived 
even in the champions of freedom. And the 
rulers of the Church on the other hand Can 
we hold them blameless? Where it would 
have been their wisdom to conciliate the pre- 
judices of the weak, and to utilise the reserve 
force of spiritual energies^ and to concede a 
little for the sake of gaining much, we find 
them bent on a froward retention of customs 
and formulae 1 which had not even the prejstige 
of antiquity insisting on a rigorous uni- 
formity and enforcing it by severest penalties. 
Both sides alike act and speak as though they 
had never .heard the words "We that are 
strong ought to bear the infirmities of the 
weak, and not to please ourselves 1 ." If we 

1 The oppressive measures recorded in Walker's *' Suffer- 
ings of the Clergy," the expulsion of many hundreds of that 
order from their cures and homes under the Long Parliament 
and Cromwell must be borne in mind when we censure, as 
we are compelled to censure, the over-bearing harshness 
which was shewn at the Savoy Conference, and which issued 
in the " black Bartholomew " fixed by the Act of Uniformity 
of 1662, for the deprivation of the 2000 Presbyterian Minis- 

7O Protestantism. 

may believe of many on both sides that they 
were casting out devils in the name of Christ, 
even though they followed not with those 
whom we follow, we must fear that many also 
came under the condemnation passed on those 
who do not gather, and are therefore as he that 
scattereth abroad. Golden opportunities were 
wasted of which we cannot hope that their 
like will ever again be given to us, and we are 
compelled to look the fait accompli in the 
face, and to acknowledge that the sentence 
' Too late ' is written on all schemes for the 
union and reconciliation of the dissenting 
communities which we see around -us, with 
each other or with the Church. 

But accepting, as we must, that lamentable 

ters, many of whom were as the salt of the earth in the 
holiness of their lives, and most of whom were yearning for 
Communion with the Established Church, if but a few con- 
cessions had been made to them in things indiiferent. A 
few leading minds like Stillingfleet, Tillotson, Burnet, Crofts, 
Baxter, sought in the forty years that followed, for terms of 
comprehension, and the Revolution of 1688 seemed at one 
time to hold out a hope that the contending parties might be 
drawn together by the sense of a common danger. On the 
Country party in the House of Commons, the country Clergy 
in the Lower House of Convocation, rests the responsibility 
of having frustrated all such well-intentioned efforts. 

. ._ 

Protestantism. 71 

Heritage, are we simply to content ourselves 
with the proverb of despair and to let the 
children's teeth be set on edge for ever by the 
sour grapes of which the fathers have eaten ? 
Are we still to look on those who are our 
bone and our flesh, who have fought the same 
battles against the same foes, with a super- 
cilious and discourteous scorn 1 ? Are we to 
condemn as schismatics .those who have been 
alienated from us at least as much by the fro- 
wardness of our fathers, as by the perverse- 
ness -of theirs ? Are we to confine our sympa- 
thies and efforts at re-union to the far-off 
Churches of the East, or the corrupt com- 
munion of the Latin Church, while we shrink 
from contact and co-operation with the more 
energetic and evangelic life of the Reformed 
Churches of Western Europe, or with the 
communities to which it would be hard, on 
any New Testament principles, to deny the 
name of Churches, that exist among our- 

1 The existence of this feeling as dominant in the upper 
classes of English Society in the past, and not extinct in the 
present, will, I suppose, hardly be questioned. It shews 
itself even now in the most opposite quarters, in the Bishop 

72 Protestantism. , 

selves 1 ? We as Churchmen need not shrink 
from following Cosin z in holding communion 
with "the Protestant and best Reformed 
Churches" of France and Germany and re- 
cognising the validity of their ordinations, in 
declaring that "in what part of the world so 

of Lincoln and Mr Matthew Arnold, as a survival of the old 
leaven. When we sneer at Dissenters as "Philistines," or 
deny to their teachers the conventional title of respect which 
indicates nothing more than that they are recognised by the 
body to which they belong, as qualified instructors, we are 
reproducing the old arrogance and the old bitterness of our 

1 It will be acknowledged that the Non-conformist 
Societies are congregations of baptised persons, confessing 
the name of Christ, taking scripture as their rule of faith. It 
would be hard to prove that St Paul would not have recog- 
nised such a congregation as an Ecclesia, though he might 
have deplored, as we deplore, the imperfect knowledge, or 
the inherited conviction, which separates them from com- 
munion with the wider Ecclesia of the nation. 

2 The extract that follows is from Cosin's Will ( Works in 
Anglo-Catholic Library, I. p. xxxil.) After his expulsion 
from the Mastership of Peterhouse, he took refuge in France 
and lived at Charenton, not far from Paris. He communi- 
cated with the Protestant (more strictly, of course, we should 
say, the Reformed) Churches there, and they allowed him to 
officiate in their congregations, using the Liturgy of the 
Church of England. When consulted as to the lawfulness of 
such communion he wrote, "To speak my mind freely to you 
I would not wish any of ours absolutely to refuse communi- 
cating in their Church, or determine it to be unlawful, for 
fear of a greater scandal that may thereupon arise, than we 
can tell how to answer or excuse." Ibid. p. xxx. 

P-rotestantis^. 73 

ever any Churches are extant, bearing the 
name of Christ and professing the true Catho- 
lic Faith, and worshipping and calling upon 
God the Father, the Son, and Holy Ghost, 
with one heart and voice, if anywhere we be 
now hindered actually to be joined with them, 
either by distance of countries or variance 
amongst men or by any hindrance whatso- 
ever, yet always in our mind and affection we 
should join and unite with them." We may 
well be content to walk in the steps of San- 
croft in urging on the Clergy " that they have 
a very tender regard to our brethren, the Pro- 
testant Dissenters . . . persuading them, 
if it may be, to a full compliance with our 
Church, or, at least, that 'whereto we have 
already attained, we may all walk by the 
same rule, and mind the same thing;' pray- 
ing for the universal blessed union of all Re- 
formed Churches, both at home and abroad, 
against our common enemies V We may ac- 
knowledge with thankfulness that many steps 
have been taken to the right application in 

1 D'Oyly, Life of Sancroft, p. 196. 

74 Protestantism. 

mettorem partem, of the " cross clauses of the 
league of Christians." One by one the sta- 
tutes which embodied the vindictive intole- 
rance of the seventeenth century have been 
swept away. The operation of the Conscience 
Clause in our National -Schools no longer 
throws us into an hysterical alarm. The ad- 
mission of Dissenters to our Colleges no 
longer rouses the fierce passions of contro- 
versy, as it did when the Master mind of this 
your University was forced to resign his tu- 
torship because he pleaded for the cause of 
justice and of charity 1 . Bishops and Pro- 
fessors of the Church are seen working side 
by side with Nonconformist scholars in the 
great ta'sk of translating and interpreting the 
sacred books which are the common heritage 
of all. They have recognised that it was 
right to inaugurate that work by participation 
in the act which witnesses of a higher unity 

1 I refer, of course, in this to Bishop ThirlwalPs pamph- 
let on the Admission of Dissenters, and the proceedings that 
followed on it. (See Edinburgh Review, Vol. CXLlll). For 
the now almost forgotten controversy of the Conscience 
Clauses I may refer to the Bishop's Charge for 1866, in the 
second volume of Dean Perowne's Edition of his Remains. 

Protestantism. 75 

thari that which is limited by outward uni- 
formity in dogma or in ritual that the true 
Elevation of the Host was that which raised 
it above our manifold divisions \ It remains 

1 I owe the expression and the thought to the late F. D. 
Maurice. It may freely be admitted that the Communions in 
Westminster Abbey, in June 1870, to which -all members of 
the two Revision Companies were invited, bore an entirely 
exceptional character, and that the Rubric which directs that 
none should be admitted to communion but "such persons as 
have been confirmed, or are ready and desirous to be con- 
firmed" was,#ro hac vice, disregarded. But the rubric itself 
is, on the other hand, a dead letter in its prohibitive, though 
happily a living ordinance in its directive, aspects. The 
English Church has never adopted the Scotch plan of 
"fencing" the Lord's Table, and in the public administration 
of Holy Communion, we, for the most part, are entirely igno- 
rant whether the condition has been complied with, or 
whether those who present themselves for Communicants 
have previously been trained in her Communion. We take 
for granted that they^are "worthy" because they seek for 
fellowship with Christ and His Church in His ordinance, that 
their consciences find nothing in our Order for Holy 
Communion to repel them from it. On this occasion men 
were on the point of starting on a great work which was 
planned for the good of English-speaking Christendom. 
Both Houses of Convocation had deliberately invited Non- 
conformist Scholars of many different denominations to take 
part in that work. Was it supposed that they could not 
possibly join in prayer for the Divine blessing on their 
labours, that they were to be students of the Divine Book with 
no sense of a Divine unity binding them together? And if they 
could thus draw near to the Father through the Son, was 
there not a cause for suspending, for the time, the restrictions 

76 Protestantism. 

for you, who are rising to take your place in 
the ranks of the clergy or laity of the Church 
of England, to carry on the good work to its 
completeness; to meet any grievances that 
yet remain in the temper, not of a jealous 
exclusiveness, but of an equitable charity 1 ; 

which excluded them from the highest Act of that access? 
Did not each Communicant, with whatever sacramental 
theories he might approach the Table, confess that there was 
in that Memorial Feast something which was wider than all 
theories, and that there was nothing in the liturgy in which 
he joined, though there might be that in it which he would 
wish otherwise, to hinder his participation in it ? Was it not 
wise and charitable to leave it to the conscience of each to 
say whether he could make that confession ? 

1 I have no wish to enter here into a discussion of the 
vexed question of which we see the outcome in the endless 
Dissenters' Burials Bills of the last few years ; but no language 
can well be too strong in deprecation of the tone and temper 
in which that discussion is commonly approached by those 
who claim to represent Church interests in Parliament or the 
press. There is the old bearing of the Cavaliers to the 
Roundheads, of the Country party of the Restoration to the 
Presbyterian. There are the old cries of the " Church in 
danger" and "the thin end of the wedge," the old incapacity 
to enter into the feelings of those from whom we differ, and 
to understand that a grievance may be very real even though 
it be only " sentimental," the old Non possumus of an 
irrational resistance. The history of the Conscience Clause 
is not in this matter without its lessons. Men nail their 
colours to the mast and raise the cry of " no surrender." At 
last a change comes, more thorough and sweeping than that 
which they had resisted, and they find that what they dreaded 

Protestantism. 77 

to recognise that those who are not against 
us in the great battle against ignorance and 
evil are on our side and so to inherit the 
blessing which belongs to " the repairers of 
the breach and the restorers of paths to 
dwell in." (Isai. Iviii. 12.) 

takes its place in the normal order of the nation's life, with- 
out the convulsive and catastrophic changes which their fears 
had prognosticated. 


ACTS xvn. 23. 

/ found an altar with this inscription, TO 

ROM. i. 19. 

That which may be known of God is manifest 
in them. 

WE can, without much difficulty or risk of 
error, picture to ourselves the thoughts and 
feelings of the Apostle as he walked through 
the streets of Athens, or stood talking to such 
as would listen to him in its agora. The 
stately temples that move the world's wonder, 
the statues of Athene, or Poseidon, or Apollo 


in every courtyard, the Hermes busts at the 
corner of every street, these were for him not, 
as they have been to many, a "thing of 

Agnosticism. 79 

beauty, and a joy for ever," but the witness of 
a fatal degradation. He had seen many 
Greek cities Tarsus, Antipch, Lystra, but 
none had so stirred his spirit into a paroxysm 
of indignant grief. That feeling was but 
intensified by the fact that the Wisdom no 
less than the Art of the Greek world was 
here presented to his mind in its highest and 
. most perfect form. Those brave words of 
Epicureans and Stoics as to the Supreme 
Good and the chief end of life, that super- 
cilious disdain of the popular worship which 
the philosopher knew to be radically wrong, 
yet had not courage to abandon, that high 
ideal of conformity to the Eternal Order on 
the one hand, or of a serene equilibrium and 
maximum of enjoyment on the other what 
had they done to raise the mass of mankind 
to clearer thoughts of God, or greater purity 
of life ? 

His eye had, however, rested on words 
which seemed to him of profound significance, 
and gave a new direction to his thoughts. 
We need not now discuss what was the mean- 

8o Agnosticism. 

ing of the words TO THE UNKNOWN GOD, t6 
him who had dedicated the altar. Was -it the 
extreme result of Polytheism, unable to 
identify its benefactor among the gods many 
and lords many of Greek mythology, and 
thinking of one more to be added to the list 
who as yet was without a name ? Was it, as 
seems more probable, like the SlGNUM INDE- 
PREHENSIBILIS DEI on the Mithraic group 
from Ostia*, the utterance of a yearning cry 

1 The inscription may be found in Orelli, II, p. 1000 ; the 
altar on which it appears is in the Vatican Museum. It 
represents, like most of those dedicated to the worship of 
Mithras, a youthful figure sacrificing a bull. The inscription 
runs : 



P. P. 

De Rossi thinks that it belongs to the last half of the third 
century, when the worship of Mithras (of which the con- 
tinued observance of the Dies Soils is perhaps a survival) 
came to be fashionable as a rival to the claims of that of 
Christ. It had, however, been introduced at Ostia as far 
back as the time of Pompeius (Plutarch, Pomp.), and Ter- 
tullian (De PrcBscr. c. XL.) bears witness to its wide-spread 
prevalence in his own time, and speaks of it as presenting 
many points of resemblance to the cultus of Christians. 
There is, therefore, no anachronism in supposing that an 
altar of this type may have existed in Athens in the first 
century. It may be added that the absence of any reference 
to such an inscription in Greek writers is against the assump- 
tion of a much earlier date?*"" 

v Agnosticism. 81 

-for the Undiscovered One, Supreme above all 
Gods worshipped in many lands and under 
many names but as yet revealed to none, 
and wrapt in the impenetrable darkness of an 
eternal mystery? The latter was; at all events, 
the interpretation which the Apostle put upon 
the. words when he made it the text of that 
memorable discourse before the . court, or 
within the precincts, of the Areopagus. I 
dare not venture now, great as the temptation 
is, to follow that discourse step by step, and 
to trace its bearing on those who listened, the 
devout worshippers the gossiping, idlers 
the philosophic disputants. It will be enough 
to note that he sees in the inscription a token 
of that awe of the unseen and unknown 
forces that lie round us, which is at once the 
germ of all true religion, and the source of 
the basest superstitions ; that in contrast with 
the false idea of God of which the latter were 
developments, he proclaims the true philo- 
sophy of worship, almost, as far as its nega- 
tive aspect is concerned, in the very words of 
P. S. 6 

82 Agnosticism'. 

Lucretius 1 , as resting on the thought that God 
needs nothing at our hands, but gives all 
things ; that he adds to this the outline of a 
new philosophy of History as being, in all its 
complexity, in "the times before appointed, 
and the bounds of men's habitations," the 
school in which God educates mankind, 
waking longings which remain unsatisfied, 
leading them through devious ways, as men 
feeling their way and groping in the twilight 
dusk, after the Eternal and Invisible. To 
that outward witness there is, he adds, an 
answering voice within us. The Stoics were 
right in their belief that every man is a 
Temple to himself, and that in that temple 
he may find God. " He is not far from every 
one of us." More truly than in the witness 
of creation, than in the records of experience, 

1 Lucret. De Nat. Rer. n. 645650 : 
" Omnis enim per se div&m natura necesse est 
Immortal! aevo summa cum pace fruatur, 
Semota ab nostris rebus sejunctaque longe ; 
Nam privata dolore omni, privata pencils, 
Ipsa suis pollens opibus, nil indiga nostri, 
Nee bene promeritis capitur, neque tangitur ira." 
Acts xvii. -25 " Neither is worshipped with men's hands, as 
though He needed anything." 

Agnosticism. 83 

he may find in the depths of consciousness, 
in the law written in his heart, in the thoughts 
that accuse each other, the token that every 
child of man is a child of God. "We also are 
His offspring 1 ." 

The speech came to an end, but not so the 
train of thought of which it was, as it were, the 
firstfruits. The Apostle's mind worked on in 
that groove, and sought to solve the problems 
which had thus presented themselves. How 
was it that, though God had not left Himself 
without witness, giving showers from heaven 

1 Dr Lightfoot has given some striking illustrations in his 
Excursus on St Paul and Seneca (Philippians, p. 288): 

"Temples are not to be built to God of stones piled on 
high : He must be consecrated in the heart of each man" 
(fragm. 1-23).. ."God is near thee; He is with thee: He is 
within" (Ep. Mor. XLI. i)..."Thou shalt not form Him of 
silver or gold. A true likeness of God cannot be moulded 
of this material " (Ep. Mor. xxxi.). 

Another may be given from a contemporary poet, the 
nephew of Seneca and the namesake of the writer of the 
Acts : 

" Estne dei sedes nisi terra, et pontus et aer, 
Et coelum et virtus? Superos quid petimus ultra? 
Jupiter est quodcumque vides, quocunque moveris." 

Lucan, Phars. IX. 578580. 

Many other illustrations will, of course, be found in most 
Commentaries tin the Acts. 


$4 Agnosticism. 

and fruitful seasons, filling men's hearts with 
food and gladness 1 , men either shewed by 
their worship, as in the popular ritual, that: 
they knew Him not, even by the hearing of the 
ear, or as in the altar to the Unknown God, 
confessed their ignorance ? What adequate 
explanation could be given of those times of 
ignorance during which God had overlooked, 
and, as it were, connived at the world's evils, 
tolerating the sins of men, while as yet there 
were no signs of the repentance which is the 
one condition of forgiveness ? If the history 
of the world was the education of mankind, 
what was the goal to which that education 
was directed? 

The whole argument of the Epistle to the 
Romans is the outcome of the thoughts which 
were working in St Paul's mind in that 
speech at Athens. It is not reading too 
much between the lines to find in the very 
words which open the argument an echo of 
the inscription which had been the origin of 
those thoughts. The despairing confession 

1 Acts xiv. 17. 

Agnosticism. 85 

of the altar to the Unknown and Unknowa- 
ble God is met by the assertion that "That 
which may be known, the knowable, of God 
is manifest in them 1 ," that the ignorance into 
which men have fallen is the result wrought 
out by their unwillingness to face the thought 
of God that this led, in its turn, to a baser 
view of their own nature and of the end of 
life 2 . As in the entail of curses on which the 
Greek poets loved to dwell, one sin became 
the parent of another, which was at once its 
natural consequence and its divinely ordained 
penalty 8 . With unshrinking hand he tears 
aside the veil of a flimsy optimism which 
boasted of the triumphs of wisdom and art, 
and culture, and in words that make us shud- 
der, lays bear the putrid and leprous cancers 

1 'AyvdiffTyQey, Acts xvii. 23. Td 'yvaarbv TOU Qeov, 
Rom. i. 19. 

2 Rom. i. 21 32. 

3 jEsch. Agam. 757, 

rb y&p Su<r<rej3^s Hpyov 
irXetova. rlKrei, crfaTtpg. 5' ek6ra ^ev 

$ots ptv iraXatd ved- 

86 Agnosticism. 

that were eating into the life of the Greek 
and Roman world and plunging it into a 
fathomless corruption. 

That dark and terrible picture might well 
have crushed out all hope. No older Mani- 
chean, no modern Pessimist, could have con- 
structed, it might have seemed, a stronger 
indictment against the divine attributes of 
wisdom, and love, and power. Did not the 
history of the world seem a colossal failure, 
the education of mankind one that ended in 
ever-deepening ignorance and guilt ? St Paul 
could not rest in that thought any more than 
he could satisfy his questioning intellect with 
the phrases of a Stoic apathy or Epicurean 
tranquillity. He found what helped to sus- 
tain him and give him guidance in the record 
of another failure that more nearly concerned 
himself and the race of which he was a member. 
Israel had not been left to the twofold wit- 
ness of creation and of conscience, but had 
been chosen for a higher knowledge and a 
special revelation. Law and Psalni and 
Ritual and Prophecy had preserved them 

Agnosticism. 87 

from the darkness that had brooded over the 
heathen. Were they after all better than the 
heathen ? Had they been truer to the Law 
written on the Tables of Stone than the 
Gentiles had been to the law written in their 
hearts ? The answer to those questions was 
a sad stern negative. .Both Jew and Gentile 
had alike come short of .the glory of God 
were alike guilty before Him shut up under 
sin and condemnation. Each had had suffi- 
cient knowledge to be "without excuse;" 
neither had so used his knowledge as to attain 
to holiness and peace 1 . The darkness on 
this view might have seemed blacker and 
more abysmal than before. If Israel was 
rejected, with all its special prerogatives as a 
chosen and peculiar people, what hope was 
there for the Gentile world ? It was given to 
St Paul to see the gleams of a Divine light 
breaking through the darkness. We cannot 
say that he solves the whole problem, and 

1 Comp. the whole argument of Rom. i. 18 iii. 19. We 
note the terrible reiteration of the aVaTroAiyijros in Rom. 
i. 20, ii. i, as addressed alike to idolater, philosopher, and 

88 Agnosticism. 

removes all difficulties. The varying inter- 
pretations that have been put upon his words 
hinder us from saying that his Theodicy, his 
vindication of the ways of God, is specu- 
iatively complete 1 . He himself is the first to 
confess that those ways are "past finding 
out." But he has seen, at least, what we may 
call the drift of things the purpose which is 
working out a result for good and not for evil. 
Men had been led and were being led 

1 It will hardly be questioned that logically the argument 
falls short of completeness, unless we carry on the train of 
thought of Rom. v. and xi. to the conclusions adopted by 
Origen and later teachers, who have cherished the wider 
hope of a universal restoration. The ".much more " of Rom. 
v. 18 20 is hardly satisfied by the "salvation" of a pre- 
destined few out of the millions of mankind. When we read 
that " all Israel shall be saved " (Rom. xi. 26), the words 
suggest something more than the perdition of a hundred 
generations and the pardon of a remnant of the hundred and 
first. And yet it is clear that the Apostle shrinks, as most 
of the Masters of those who know have shrunk, from dog- 
matically affirming that universal restoration. He is content 
to rest in the belief that that is God's purpose, that He is 
leading men through ways that baffle our investigation to 
that far-off result, but he cannot exclude the thought that it 
is possible that the fatal gift of freedom which frustrates the 
loving purpose of God now on earth may frustrate it for ever. 
It is not without significance that Rom. xi. should have been 
the favourite chapter alike of ultra-Calvinists and of Thomas 
Erskine of Linlathen. 

Agnosticism. 89 

Jew and Gentile alike, by a terrible experience 
to feel their impotence apart from God, to 
welcome the revelation of God in Christ by 
which they have access to the Father. The 
mercies of God were manifested even in the 
sentence of condemnation. He had concluded 
all in unbelief that He might have pity upon 
all 1 . 

I have dwelt at this length on the main 
line of St Paul's treatment of this great 
question the ever-recurring question which 
has haunted the souls of men in the former 
times as well as in the latter because I am 
persuaded that it is on these lines of thought 
that we must travel if we would meet, with 
any adequacy, the special forms of scepticism 
or unbelief that seem to us characteristic of 
our own time. Those forms present, it is 
obvious, many features analogous to those 
with which he had to deal. It seems a strange 
outcome of the eighteen centuries which have 
passed since he thus thought and spoke, that 
men should still be thinking of God as the 

1 Rom. xi. 32. 


9O ' Agnosticism. 

Unknown and the Unknowable yet so we 
know it is 1 . The prophets of Science tell us 
that we can know the phenomena of the uni- 
verse, but that we cannot know their cause, 
and that it is our wisdom to keep within the 
limits of the knowable. The prophets of 


culture, with the savour of an earlier and 
better training still lingering in their souls, go 
a step beyond this, and tell us not untruly, 
however incompletely, that there are signs all 
around us and within us of "a power not 
ourselves, a stream of tendency, that makes 
for righteousness 2 ," and that therefore it is our 

1 Huxley's Lay Sermons, p. ao, " The theology of the 
present has become more scientific than that of the past, 
because it has not only renounced idols of wood and idols of 
stone, but begins to see the necessity of breaking in pieces the 
idols built up of books and traditions and fine-spun ecclesias- 
tical cobwebs, and of cherishing the noblest and most human 
of man's emotions by worship, ' for the most part of the silent 
sort,' at the altar of the Unknown and Unknowable." 

2 Matthew Arnold, Literature and Dogma, p. 41. " For 
Science God is simply the stream of tendency by which all 
things fulfil the law of their being." One cannot read this 
and other writings of Mr Arnold's without hearing in them, 
the two voices whose dissonant notes have not yet been 
brought into accord. On the one hand there is a manifest 
capacity for almost mystical emotion. He sympathises with, 
and half shares, the love which Israel felt for the Eternal, 

Agnosticism . ' 91 

wisdom to be righteous that this is all that 
we can know of what we call God, and that 
when we ascribe to Him a Will, and Purpose 
and Character, still more when we venture 
to interpret His dealings with mankind or to 
accept a revelation from Him, we are simply 
falling back into the anthropomorphic con- 
ceptions which have been the source of all 

the Father. He confesses truly enough that the "Power in 
us and around us is best described by the name of this 
authoritative, but yet tender and protecting relation" (p. 35), 
that "the more we experience its shelter, the more we feel 
that it is protecting even to tenderness" (p. 65). On the 
other he is repelled by the introduction of a scholastic term 
like "personality" into popular rhetoric, and by what seem 
to him platform phrases about "a moral and intelligent 
Governor of the Universe" (p. 26), and will not ask himself 
whether these phrases are not after all identical in meaning 
with those which he adopts himself. Is there, we may ask, 
any great gulf of thought between a "Power not ourselves 
that makes for righteousness" and "a moral Governor of the 
Universe"? Are we thinking of God only as "a magnified 
and non-natural man," because we ascribe to Him a Wisdom 
and Love and Righteousness, the ideas of which have been 
gathered indeed from our own conscious experience, but 
which we recognise as being free in Him from the imper- 
fections that cloud all manifestations of them which we have 
seen in men? In his protests against the "insane license of 
affirmation" which characterises our theological systems, 
most controversialists will recognise a rebuke deserved by 
their opponents, most impartial students of controversy a 
warning by which all may profit. 

92 Agn'ostidsm. 

perversions and falsehoods, in the religious 
history of mankind. The prophets of art 
follow up the lesson by proclaiming that its 
province and that of ethics are unconnected 
with each other and that the end of the 
former is but to depict faithfully whatever it 
finds to its hand that may minister to our 
sense of beauty and bring about a maximum 
of enjoyment The more sensuous, realistic 
forms of art, in poetry, and painting, and 
sculpture, fulfil this purpose more than the 
ideal, or mystic, or ascetic forms that presup- 
pose a standard of holiness, and . those who 
follow them are therefore truer to their voca- 
tion. All alike take up their taunting proverb 
against what seems to them the shadowy 
projection of our hopes and fears into the 
dim future that lies beyond the veil. Epicu- 
reans and Stoics may listen to the preacher 
as he speaks in their own terms, of righteous- 
ness and temperance, but when he proclaims 
a judgment to come and tells them that God 
has appointed Jesus who was crucified to be 
Judge of quick and dead, the result is now as 

Agnosticism; 93 

it was of old. Some mock, in various tones 
of brutal or refined derision. Some, let us 
hope, there may be, who will say " We will 
hear thee again of this matter." 

What kind of worship, in act or word, is 
to be the expression of the thoughts of those 
who, while they undermine the groundwork 
of all devotion, still recognise the religious 
instincts of mankind, as an essential element 
of their nature, that must have a legitimate 
outflow, or, at least, a safety valve, lest they 
should explode and . shatter the edifice of 
theory, it is not easy to say. The wprship to 
be paid at the altar of the Unknown and 
Unknowable is, we are told, to be "for the 
most part of the silent sort," and it must be 
admitted that it would be a hard task to con- 
struct a liturgy on the basis of an absolute nes- 
cience of Him whom we ignorantly worship. 
The worship of humanity, of its saints and 
heroes as having an immortality in the 
memory of mankind, and the after harvest of 
the seeds which they have sown, may end, as 
it seems likely to end, in an unlimited 

94 * Agnosticism. , 

apotheosis of the discoverers and benefactors 
of the race, but of each god so created it will 
be true that he is shadowy, impersonal, un- 
substantial, and that after all "prayer and 
praise, there will be neither voice nor answer 
nor any that regardeth 1 .- The Christian of the 
nineteenth century will find it as hard to turn 
from the worship of a personal Father to that 
of an impersonal "drift of things" as the 
Athenian did to think of a Vortex as seated 

1 What we may call the positive, or constructive, side of 
Positivism has been described by Mr Huxley as "Catholicism 
minus Christianity. " It meets man's cravings for a cultus of 
some kind, with a calendar of heroes and saints and sages 
almost as multitudinous as that of the Church of Rome, with a 
hierarchy whose ideal task is to dominate, as she has done, over 
the intellect and will of men. It has been easier, however, for 
those who call themselves disciples of Comte to follow him in 
the task of pulling down than of building up; and while 
thousands take up the phrases that shut out the question, Can 
we know God ? as belonging only to the first stage of human 
progress, the priests and the worshippers of the "religion of 
humanity " may be counted on one's fingers. And yet it has 
been said with truth that the thoughts which underlie that 
religion are not the weakest, but the noblest elements in 
Comte's teaching, are " not only reconcileable with Christia- 
nity, but are essentially Christian." The Positivist theory 
"so far from advancing anything novel in such teaching, simply 
places us once again in the original Christian point of view 
of the Cosmos" (Westcott, Aspects of Positivism in relation 
to Christianity in Contemporary Review, vol. vm. p. 383). 

Agnosticism. 95 

on the throne of Zeus 1 . The worship of the 
beautiful in art is likely to issue, as it did of 
old, in hymns to Aphrodite and a sensuous 
ritual of measureless impurities 2 . We turn 
from these dreams and mirage phantoms of 
an impossible devotion, as with a sense of 
relief and reality, to the truer utterances of 
those who though they confessed that they 
had not found God were yet in earnest seek- 
ing after Him, to the traditional death-prayer 
which some mediaeval sceptic passed upon 
the world as coming from the lips of Aris- 

1 Strepsiades, "opfs oSv, (as dyaSov rb fj.av6dveiv, 

owe ZffTiv, S> $et5nrirl8i], Zeds, dXXa TIS 
ATvos fiaffi\6vei, rov At' eeX7jXai6s." 

Aristoph. Nub. 805. 

2 I am not over-conversant with the literature of the 
higher criticism of art, and do not care to quote illustrative 
extracts, but the verses and popular essays which meet- one in 
the current journalism of the day tend, it will scarcelybe denied, 
to a glorification, almost, one might say, an apotheosis, 
of Nakedness, which presents but too obvious points of pa- 
rallelism to the St Simonian "rehabilitation of the flesh." 
Not once or twice in the history of mankind have we seen 
the outcome of this gilded putrescence, and have learnt how it 
eats into a nation's life, and ends as in the poetry of Catullus, 
the novels of Petronins, and the art of Caprea?. The "Pa- 
lace of Art" which an earlier generation was taught to admire, 
had no galleries of lupanarian tableaux. 

96 Agnosticism. 

totle, Causa causarum, miserere mei 1 ^ to the 
touching, sad, yet not hopeless, words which 
we read at Westminster on the tomb of the 
statesman-poet, and which embody the same 
prayer addressed to the God whom he knew 
only as the Ens Entium, for in that Miserere 
we read the faith which from the beginning of 
the world has justified, the sinner's conscious- 
ness that he needs forgiveness and that there 
is One ready to forgive 2 . 

It is not enough, however, to point out 

1 The prayer is referred to by Fiddes in his defence of 
Sheffield's epitaph (p. 40) as found in Coelius Rhodigenius 
(n. 17, 34), and it runs thus : "Fade hanc vitam-intravi; 
anx^^ls vixi; trefidus egredlor ; Causa Causarum, Miserere 
mei." That writer, however, does not give the words, and I 
write them from my recollection of an Oxford Lecture by the 
present Dean of Wells, in 1842. 

2 The whole of this part of the epitaph (on the tomb 
of Sheffield, Duke of Buckinghamshire) is worth giving : 

"Dubius, sed non improbus, vixi; 
Incertus morior, non perturbatus. 
Humanum est nescire et errare. 

Deo confido 

Omnipotenti benevolentissimo : 
Ens Entium, miserere mei." 

The vacant space in the fourth line was to have been filled 
up with " Christum adveneror," but this 'was rejected by 
Atterbury as not sufficiently orthodox. Stanley's Westminster 
Abbey, p. 247. 

Agnosticism. 97 

the inadequacy of these substitutes for the 
faith and the worship of Christendom. We 
may learn something even from those who 
appear, as in some sense, its enemies. There 
is an element of truth in the protests which 
they utter against the anthropomorphic ten- 
dency that shews itself too often in our 
thoughts of the Divine Nature. While we 
rightly contend that no conception of that 
Nature is thinkable which is not moulded in 
the forms of human thought that we must 
take our idea of the righteousness and love of 
God from what we know of the righteousness 
and love of Man, and that it introduces an 
inextricable and intolerable confusion, if we 
reason, as some of the defenders of our faith 
have reasoned, as if the two were generically 
different, so that the one cannot be measured 
by the standard of the other l , the history of 

1 The argument that we cannot reason from the ideas 
which we connect with human righteousness, truth, love, 
wisdom to what would or would not be consistent with 
those attributes in the Divine Nature, is but too familiar to the 
student of Calvinistic and other controversies. We find it in 
its most philosophic form in Dean Mansel's Bampton Lectures. 

P. S. 7 

98 Agnosticism. 

theological speculations, often, alas, of that 
speculation as translated into action, shews us 
that men have in too large a measure trans^ 
ferred their own imperfections, their own nar- 
rowness and want of love, to Him in whom all 
is perfect. We cannot ask ourselves what 
were the thoughts of God underlying the 
creed of a Philip II. or a Dominic (may we 
not add, in some measure, of a Tertullian and 
an Augustine, of a Dante and a Calvin ?) with- 
out feeling that they were clouding the divine 
light with their own darkness, making, sad 
the hearts that God had not made sad, that 
they reasoned, as Caliban may have reasoned 
out his system of theology as to the nature 
of his " dam's God Setebos," from what they 
would have done had they been in the place 

We have no "right to assume that there is, if not a perfect 
identity, at least an exact resemblance between the moral 
nature of man and that of God ; that the laws and principles 
of infinite justice are but magnified images of those which 
are manifested on a finite scale " (2nd ed. p. 212). In words 
which seem almost as if it came from the camp of the enemy 
and not of an ally, we are told that " we find ourselves baffled 
in. every attempt to conceive an infinite moral nature, or its 
condition, an infinite personality." 

Agnosticism. 99 

of God 1 ; that to the worshipper of the eiddla 
of the Market-place and the Den, no less 
than to those of the idols of wood or stone, 
the psalmist's words, spoken as from the 
mouth of God, were but too justly applicable, 
"Thou thoughtest that I was altogether such a 
one as thyself 2 ." The true safeguard against 
an unworthy anthropomorphism is found, not 
in taking refuge in the thought that God is 
unknowable and unthinkable, but for those 
who are without the revelation of God in 
Christ, in reasoning upwards from all that 
the consensus of mankind has most reverenced 

1 Most readers will recognise the reference to Mr Brown- 
ing's poem, Caliban ^lpon Setebos, or Natural Theology in the 
Island, in his Dramatis Persona. As a psychological study 
the poem stands in manifestly designed correspondence and 
contrast with the higher form of anthropomorphic thought in 
the Death in the Desert in the same volume. I quote the 
following from the latter poem. 

"Before the point was mooted 'What is God?' 
No savage man inquired 'What am myself?' 
Much less replied 'First, last, and best of things.' 
Man takes that title now, if he believes 
Might can exist with neither will nor love 
In God's case what he names now ' Nature's Law ' 
While in himself he recognises love 
No less than might or will: and rightly takes." 

2 Ps. 1. 21. 


loo . Agnosticism. 

and loved in man; for those who walk in the 
light of that revelation, in looking on the 
human character of Jesus as the standard by 
which to measure all our conceptions of the 
Eternal Will and Purpose. What God is, is 
made known to us, as far as the Finite can 
apprehend the Infinite, by what Jesus was. 
" He that hath seen Him hath seen the Fa- 
ther 1 ." In the light of that revelation we 
need not fear the reproach of holding an an- 
thropomorphic creed. Too often, we may 
fear, the reproach comes from those who 
shrink from any distinct thought of the Per- 
sonality of God, because they shrink from the 
burden even of their own personal being as 
being brought face to face with His. It is 
not without significance that one of the lead- 
ers of scientific thought should have hinted at 
the seeming paradox, that it may be ques- 
tioned whether " there is anything really, an- 
thropomorphic even in man's nature 2 ," whe- 

1 John xiv. 9. 

2 Huxley, Lay Sermons, p. 180. "As the ages lengthen 
the borders of Physicism increase. The territories of the 
bastards are all annexed to Science, and even Theology, in 

Agnosticism. 101 

ther, i. e., all that we think of as most distinc- 
tive of man, the thought that looks before 
and after the consciousness of sin the 
yearning after holiness the enduring faith of 
the martyr the foul crime of the murderer 
and the adulterer, are not all alike on the 
same level, as "automatic functions" of the 
" cunningest of Nature's clocks." 

If we ask, as we survey these and other 
movements of thought around us, as we trace 
their action on ourselves, in what they have 
originated, and what constitutes their strength, 
we shall find, if I mistake not, that they have 
a twofold birth. There is first, what we may 
describe, in the language of one who has 
given to the world his confessions of the way 
in which they acted on himself, as the Neme- 

her purer forms, has ceased to be anthropomorphic, however 
she may talk. Anthropomorphism has taken stand in its 
last fortress, man himself. But Science closely invests the 
walls; and Philosophers gird themselves to battle upon the 
last and greatest of all speculative problems. Does human 
Nature present any free, volitional, and truly anthropo- 
morphic element, or is it only the cunningest amongst all 
Nature's clocks? Some, among whom I count myself, think , 
that the battle will for ever remain a' drawn one." 

-IO2 Agnosticism. 

sis of Faith 1 . The blind acceptance of dogmas 
that rested only on human authority, that had 
never been tested by, and could not bear the 
test of, Scripture, of Reason and of Consci- 
ence, has been followed by a natural reaction. 
The imperious command "Believe all that 
the Church tells you to believe, or believe 
nothing," has led sometimes, as we see in the 
prevalent unbelief of Spain and Italy and 
France, to a simulated faith, as when the 
priest turns .atheist ; or to open and defiant 
resistance 2 . The bitterness and narrowness of 
Christian controversialists, each anathema- 
tising the other, each insisting on his own 
definitions of the faith as essential conditions 

1 The Nemesis of Faith, published by Mr J. A. Froude 
in 1848, is now, I believe, out of print, and is probably not 
likely to be republished by its author. Taken together with 
the "Remains" of his brother R. H. Froude, it forms a com- 
ment almost as suggestive as the history of the two Newmans 
or the two Arnolds, on the history of religious thought in the 
last half century. 

2 Here again the general state of things in the countries 
where Rome exercises, or did exercise till lately, her most 
direct influence without the counter-check of an active and 
living Protestantism, finds a representative instance in the 
"Life of Blanco White." 

Agnosticism. 103 

of its having any power 'to save from sin 
or the penalties of sin, have deterred men 
from any thorough examination of the grounds 
of faith. They have not cared to under- 
take the preliminary enquiry where the path 
by which they travelled was to lead them, not 
into the fair field of truth, but into a laby- 
rinth of thorns and briars \ You have known, 
I cannot doubt, as I have done, some who 

1 The state of feeling produced by the reciprocal de- 
nunciations of controversalists has found expression in 
Pope's familiar lines : 

" For modes of faith let senseless bigots fight, 

His can't be wrong whose life is in the right." 
It is suggestive that like lines in Dryden's Religio Laici^ 

"Faith is not built on disquisitions vain; 

The things we must believe are few and plain," 
were followed by-his conversion to Rome, and the poem of 
The Hind and the Panther. Taylor's "Dedication" to his 
Liberty of Prophesying represents the same tendency to a 
Latitudinarianism like that which has become characteristic 
of modern thought. " Where then," he asks, after a survey 
of the Churches and sects of his time, "shall we fix our 
confidence or join communion ? To pitch upon any one of 
these is to throw the dice, if salvation be to be had only in 
one of them, and that every error that by chance hath made a 
sect and is distinguished by a name is damnable." The 
whole treatise is given to working out the ideal of a Church 
which should impose no other term of communion than the 
Apostles' Creed. Baxter, in the closing years of his life, 
drew very near to a like wide comprehensiveness. 

IO4 Agnosticism.. 

have thus made shipwreck of their faith, who, 
with great power and brilliant genius, have 
begun their career among you as the highest 
of high Churchmen, talking glibly of the notes 
of Catholicity, asserting the authority of the 
Church as against private judgment, quoting 
the Vincentian Canon of the "Quod semper, quod 
ubique, quod ab omnibus" as though it were ap- 
plicable to the most disputable formulae ; and 
you have seen after a year or two, it may be of 
great success in the regions of science or of 
culture, a strange and sad transformation. 
They appear as the destroyers of the faith 
which once they preached, and turn, almost 
as if with a personal vindictiveness, upon the 
Creed which had held them in bondage and 
trammelled the free exercise of their thought, 
as the enemy of civilisation and of science. 

And then, secondly, there is yet another 
source of unbelief which I name, not that you 
may condemn others, but that you may judge 
yourselves. ; What St Paul noted as explain- 
ing the degradation of the race is true also 
fatally true of the degradation of the indivi- 

Agnosticism, 105 

dual soul. Men do not care to retain God in 
their knowledge because they have ceased to 
honour Him as a Father and shrink from 
regarding Him as a judge 1 . They will not 
come to the light lest their deeds should be 
reproved. They hear the preacher reasoning 
of righteousness, temperance and judgment to 
come and they, at first, put off the unwel- 
come task of acting on his words to the more 
convenient season which never comes and 
then the wish is father to the thought and 
they say in their hearts that there is no judg- 
ment and no God. Have you not felt that it 
is so ? Have you not known, as you look 
back upon a year of selfishness and sen- 
suality upon some lavish act of sin which 
" lets in contagion to the inward parts," and 
leaves on the soul the indelible stain of a lost 
purity, that not your Reason, but your Will, 
rose up in rebellion against the Truth which 
you reject that you looked round for argu- 
ments which might confirm you in your de- 
nial or your doubt that having ceased to 
1 Rom. i. 19 29. 

106 .' Agnosticism. 

pray, you sought to convince yourselves that 
prayer was a delusive unreality. Conscience 
is not yet dead, and therefore you seek for 
the narcotic of speculative unbelief that it 
may drug you into at least a partial insensi- 
bility. If any of you have trodden that 
downward path you will do well to remember 
that it is not thus that the victories of Truth 
are won that you enter on the enquiry with 
a mind set upon a foregone conclusion. The 
Masters of those who know who, even if 
they are not for us, are yet not against us, 
will tell you that "self-reverence, self-know- 
ledge, self-control" are the conditions of 
which your own poet speaks 1 , as of " sove- 
reign power " so of all clearness of' spiritual 
perception. " Into a soul skilled in evil Wis- 

1 "Self-reverence, self-knowledge, self-control, 
These three alone lead life to sovereign power, 
Yet not for power power of herself 
Would come uncalled for, but to live by law, 
Acting the law we live by without fear; 
And because right is right, to follow right 
Were wisdom in the scorn of consequence." 

Tennyson's (Enone. 

Agnosticism. 107 

dom will not enter, nor dwell in the body that 
is subject unto .sin V 

The attacks on the faith thus weakened, 
or the spiritual perception thus obscured, come 
from many different quarters, if not, with the 
concert of an organised campaign, yet with a 
common aim. Criticism questions the date, or 
the authorship, or the accuracy of the Sacred 
Books ; tells us that the records which pur- 
port to give the Origines of the faith of Israel 
or of Christendom are the product of a later 
age, marked, each of them, by human tenden- 
cies, or even party purposes, and that the 
Origines themselves are to be found in the 
cloudland of mythical tradition, with or with- 
out a nucleus of historical fact. Marks of 
compilation or editorship are found where 
before we had recognised only the" work of 
a single hand. The diversities which present 
themselves in the presentation of our Lord's 
teaching in the Synoptic Gospels and St 
John's are urged as shewing that the last 

1 Wisd. of Sol. i. 4. The Greek word rendered in the 
English version as "malicious" is 

io8 Agnosticism. 

is not the work of the beloved disciple, but 
of some unknown speculative thinker of the 
second century. Not a few of St Paul's 
Epistles are noted as being manifestly spu- 
rious, standing on the same footing as the 
Clementine Homilies. You, in this place, 
have materials ready at hand for giving in 
these matters a reason of the hope that is in 
you. You have been taught how the Bible 
took its place in the Church 1 , after what sift- 
ings and searchings of evidence after what 
test and trial of its spiritual power as the 
channel through which the Word of God was 
brought to the souls of men. You have seen 
how the parade of an enormous erudition, 
summing up what were alleged to be the 
results of an impartial criticism. of the claims 
of a Supernatural Religion, has collapsed, like 
the shadowy phantom who poured into the 
ear of the sleeping mother of mankind 

distempered, discontented thoughts, . 
Blown up with high conceits, engendering pride, 

before the touch of an Ithuriel spear of more 

1 See Dr Westcott's Bible in the Church. 

Agnosticism. 109 

celestial temper \ You have been taught that 
in the midst of all the diversities of thought, 
temperament, tendencies, which mark the 
writings of the New Testament, there is a 
central unity that no historical error has 
been proved against its records sufficient to 
invalidate their claim to our respect. And 
above all, you have learnt to examine these 
questions without panic and without passion, 
to admit the right of men to ask them, and 
not to judge them hastily if they seem to you 
to have answered the questions wrongly. You 
would not think that the foundations of the 
earth were out of course if the book of Eccle- 
siastes.were shewn to be a dramatic persona- 
tion of the character of the Son of David, 
like that which we recognise as such in the 
Wisdom of Solomon, or if the second Epistle 
of St Peter were proved to stand on a less 
firm basis of authority than the first. 

Those who press the incompatibility of 
the results of scientific research with the re- 

1 See Dr Lightfoot's series of Papers on " Supernatural 
Religion " in the Contemporary Review for 1876-77. 

no Agnosticism. . ' 

cord of the creative work with which the book 
of Genesis opens, dwell in part on facts which . 
are all but universally recognised, in part on 
theories which, whatever claim they may pos- 
sess as approximate solutions of phenomena, 
stand, as yet, at best on the footing of inge- 
nious, but unproved, hypotheses. No sane 
person would now quote texts against the con- 
clusions which we identify with the names of 
Copernicus and Galileo and Newton. Few 
would venture to raise the cry of impiety 
against the geological theories that demand 
an almost limitless period for the preparation 
of the earth as the dwellingplace of man. We 
look with a pitying astonishment on the chrono- 
logical tables which barely half a century ago 
fixed the creation of the world, sun, moon and 
stars, as well as earth, in the autumn of B. c. 
4OO4 1 . The more recent theories of the evo- 
lution of all forms of life from some proto- 
plasmic germs, of the origin of species, not by 
successive creative acts, but by the accumula- 
tion, through long ages, of variations singly 

1 Greswell's Fasti Catholici, I. 

Agnosticism. in 

imperceptible, of the descent of man from 
some anthropoid ape, can scarcely claim as 
yet to be -invested with the same authority. 
The history of the past has here, also, how- 
ever, its lessons for the present. The zeal, 
"not according to knowledge," which con- 
demned Galileo 1 and asserted in the early 
days of the British Association that the geo- 
logical theories which we connect with the 
honoured name of Sedgwick were "incom- 
patible with Christianity/' and bore on them 
"the taint of infidelity 2 /' may repeat the 
blunders of the former days, which in this 
respect were neither better nor worse than 
the latter. We need to examine these specu- 

1 Galileo's enforced recantation has been regarded by 
Roman Catholic theologians from very different standpoints. 
On the one hand some have found comfort in the thought 
that he was condemned by the Congregation of the Holy 
Office and not by the Pope personally, and that thus the In- 
fallibility of the successor of St Peter was not compro- 
mised (Celeste's Galileo, c. xii.). On the other he has been 
praised as having made a sincere recantation (the " pur 
si muove " being dismissed as a Protestant mythos), and so set 
a noble example of the svibmission of intellect to faith 
(Wetzcr and Welter, Kirchen-Lexikon, Art. Galilei). 

2 Dean Cockburn, The Bible defended against the British 
Association, 1844. 

H2 Agnosticism. 

lations also without prejudice and without 
passion, without the bitterness of condemna- 
tion, which has its source in panic while it 
simulates the confidence of faith. " Day unto 
day uttereth speech, night unto night de- 
clareth knowledge," and, should they also 
come to take their place, with missing links 
of evidence supplied, as demonstrable con- 
clusions, we may welcome them as a true 
interpretation of the facts of God's universe," 
reconcilable, not, it may be, with the outward 
form and symbols of the truth which were 
adapted to an earlier stage in the history of 
mankind, but with the essential truth that 
underlies those symbols. Artificial schemes 
of reconciliation detail by detail, the laissez 
faire assumption that the works of God can- 
not contradict even the letter which we have 
identified with His word 1 , these we may 

1 The failure of such attempts, even in the hands of men 
like Buckland or Hugh Miller, is a warning against the hasty 
reproduction of these or like schemes in the future. It is 
doubtless a wiser course that the students of Theology and of 
Science should accept a partition treaty and work on in 
parallel lines independently of each other with mutual respect 

Agnosticism. 113 

leave to those who are wanting in the wider 
faith. Knowledge may grow from more to 
more, but the faith which rests on the eternal 
rock will keep pace with her advance. There 
was a creative energy manifested in every 
variation of type which worked out the Divine 
idea. When the anthropoid ape if we were 
to admit the possibility of the transforma- 
tion first became a " being of large discourse 
looking before and after," a man endowed 
with reason, speech, conscience, will, there 
was that which answers to the record, veiled, 
it may be, in the 'symbols of the world's in- 
fancy, that God made man Adam, the pro- 

and sympathy. But to assume that the conclusions of science 
will ultimately be found to coincide with a natural and 
honest interpretation of the letter of Gen. i. vi. rests on the 
further assumption, incapable of proof, that that record was 
intended to be an unerring scientific statement of the true his- 
tory of the phenomena of the Universe ; and a time may come, 
is indeed sure to come, when the students in the two regions 
will compare results and ask whether they agree. It is, 
I believe, a wiser and braver course to admit the possibility 
of disagreement, and to limit our thoughts of the Genesis 
records to the great central ideas which were in the mind of 
the human writer, ideas coming from the Eternal Spirit but 
clothing themselves in the symbols of a time of imperfect 
knowledge and the generalisations as of an infant Newton. ~ 

p. s. . 8 

H4 Agnosticism. 

totype of humanity, out of the dust of the 
ground, yet in His own image, and breathed 
into his nostrils the breath of life 1 . 

The attack advances from the outworks 
to the citadel, and Science or those who pro- 
phesy in the name of Science proclaim that 
there can be no revelation of the mind of 
God, because the idea of a revelation pre- 
supposes a miraculous interposition, and the 
order of Nature testifies against the possi- 
bility of miracles. That objection may be 

1 I find that I have almost reproduced unconsciously the 
very words in which the great Apostle of Evolution states 
the view which he, as might be expected, rejects. (Haeckel, 
The Evolution of Man, u. 458.) "These same dualistic 
philosophers must of course, if they are consistent, also 
assume that there will be a moment in the Phylogeny of 
the human mind at which this mind first entered the ver- 
tebrate body of man. Accordingly, at the time when the 
human body developed from the body of the Anthropoid 
Ape (thus probably in the latter part of the Tertiary Period) 
a specific human mind-element, or, as it is usually expressed, 
a "divine spark," must have suddenly entered, or been 
breathed into, the brain of the Anthropoid Ape and there 
have associated itself with the already existing Ape-mind. 
I need not point out the theoretic difficulties involved in this 

conception Comparative Psychology, however, teaches 

that this frontier-post (Reason) between man and beast is 
altogether untenable. " 

Agnosticism. 11-5 

urged, as you know, either on the ground of 
a scepticism pure and simple, contending that 
there can be no evidence adequate to prove a 
miracle against the overwhelming presump- 
tion from the uniformity of Nature, or from 
the higher ground of an ideal theism resting 
on the assumption that the maintenance of 
law, and not interference with it, is more wor- 
thy of our highest conceptions of the Divine 
Nature, and that, therefore, there is, from that 
standpoint also, a presumption against phe- 
nomena claiming to be miraculous 1 . Answers 
have been given to both those presumptions 
with a completeness which lies beyond my 
reach 2 . It has been urged as against the first 

1 Hume's Essay on Miracles may be taken as the repre- 
sentative of the one school, Goethe's assertion that the idea of 
miracle was a blasphemy against the majesty of God, of the 

2 No thoughtful reader can study Dr Mozley's Bampton 
Lectures on Miracles without profound interest. But it may 
be questioned whether he too does not, like his predecessor 
Dean Mansel, tend to drift into a scepticism in the interests 
of orthodoxy when he maintains that a uniform succession of 
phenomena in the past gives no grounds for anticipating 
a like succession in the future. On the whole I fall back 
upon Butler's discussion of the Miraculous Element of 


1 1 6 Agnosticism* 

presumption, that there are phenomena in the 
natural world, exceptional and rare in their 
gccurrence, which yet we receive, when they 
are attested by evidence that we should con- 
sider trustworthy in other cases, as coming 
within the range of law ; that in order that the 
presumption might rest on an adequate basis, 
we need an induction from the history of 
other worlds like our own, and passing through 
similar stages of development. It has been 
contended, as against the second, that it intro- 
duces into our conception of God, the very 
anthropomorphism against which we have 
heard such indignant protests that it juggles 
with ambiguous terms when it identifies the 
Law which conscience recognises as binding, 
with that which is but a convenient expres- 
sion of the manner in which material pheno- 
mena succeed each other that even from its 
own standpoint it would be true that, as man 
rises to his highest dignity when Will obeying 
Law, in its true sense, asserts its supremacy 

Revelation (Anal. II. 2) as being less subtle but more satis- 

Agnosticism. 117 

over merely automatic actions, so there is no 
dishonour done to our ideal of God when we 
think of Him, also, as putting forth His Will, 
in accordance with the wisdom and with the 
love which, with Hooker, we may recognise 
as the true eternal Law of His being 1 , even 
though in so doing He should break through 
what, in the other sense of the word, are the 
Laws which He has imposed on the world of 
Nature, which without that exercise of sove- 
reignty, would be but an eternally automatic 

We are thus carried on one step further to 
the great question of all; Can we know that 
God is ? Can we know what He is ? Is He 
a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him ? 
Does He govern the world in righteousness ? 
Is He such that we should serve Him, love 

1 It may rightly be urged that on this view the Miracle 
itself (assuming adequate evidence of the fact) presupposes 
the law of uniform succession which it interrupts, and is itself 
the expression of the higher Law working now through that 
lower law, and now through its suspension. Of that higher 
Law itself it is true that it includes love, life, and will, and 
therefore that "her seat is the bosom of God, her voice the 
harmony of the world.'^ (Hooker, E, P. T. ad fin.) 

n8 Agnosticism. 

Him, yearn after His presence now, that to 
see and know Him as He is shall be hereafter 
the beatific vision of the Saints of God ? Here 
also, as we know but too well, some of the 
keenest intellects and noblest natures of our 
time have made shipwreck of their faith. 
The words that " that which is knowable of 
God" is manifest in them, being intellectually 
apprehended from the things that are made, 
even His eternal power and Godhead, have 
come to seem to them as a voice heard in 
a dream and not audible to the waking ear. 
The laws of evidence or the constitution 
of men's minds have, it would seem, under- 
gone a catastrophic change within the last 
hundred years. Paley's argument from de- 
sign is out of date. "We cannot infer from 
the watch the existence of its maker. The 
very 'cunningest of Nature's clocks' may 
have been developed out of a ruder and 
rougher timepiece, and that,- in its turn, may 
have originated in the spontaneous activity 
of some germ-cell more sensitive than its fel- 
lows, to the motion of the heavens which it 

Agnosticism. 119 

measures. We, at all events, cannot even 
guess at the purpose and character of the 
maker. We must content ourselves with ob- 
serving its movements, and taking its wheels 
and springs to pieces 1 . In that positive know- 
ledge there is wisdom and safety. In the 

1 I have but summed up the very words of Huxley's Lay 
Sermons, p. 330. He is answering Paley's argument from 
the watch and the inferences of teleology generally, "Imagine 
, that it had been possible to shew that all these changes had 
resulted first from a tendency in the structure to vary indefi- 
nitely, 'and secondly from something in the surrounding 
world which helped all variations in the direction of an 
accurate timekeeper and checked all those in other directions, 
then it is obvious that the force of Paley's argument would be 
gone, for it would be demonstrated that an apparatus tho- 
roughly well adapted to a particular purpose might be the 
result of a method of trial and ends worked by unintelligent 
agents, as well as of the direct application of the means 
appropriate to that end by an intelligent agent." I confess, 
in spite of the undue depreciation which now rests on Paley's 
name (a natural reaction, it may be, from a period of undue 
honour), that I could wish for one hour of his robust common 
sense in answer to this "It is obvious," "it would be demon- 
strated." Does the inference that there is a Will that designs 
vary in the inverse ratio of the magnitude and complexity of 
the design ? Assuming the theory of evolution to be carried 
backward and forward to the remotest periods of duration of 
which we can conceive, is it more philosophical to believe 
that it speaks of a Will that is, and was, and is to come, or 
to find in it no object of faith but a "tendency" and a "some- 

I2O Agnosticism. " ? 

attempt to go beyond it we are going back to 
the childhood of the race, when it peopled 
earth and heaven with Unseen Powers, and 
bowed in blind terror or gratitude, before the 
presence of the supernatural. The consensus 
of mankind in the times of ignorance cannot 
be allowed to weigh against the illumination 
of the present." That conclusion of Atheism, 
or Agnosticism has been contemplated with 
very different thoughts. There are those who 
see in it, like Lucretius *, the last triumph of 

1 "Humana ante oculos foede cum vita jaceret 
In terris oppressa gravi sub religione 
Quae caput a caeli regionibus ostendebat, 
Horribili super aspectu mortalibus instans, 
Primum Graius homo mortalis tollere contra 
Est oculos ausus primusque obsistere contra, 
Quern nee fama deum nee fulmina nee minitanti 
Murmure compressit caelum, sed eo magis acrem 
Jnritat animi virtutem, effringere ut arta 
Naturae primus portarum claustra cupiret. 
Ergo vivida vis animi pervicit, et extra 
Processit longe flammantia moenia mundi, 
Atque omne immensum peragravit mente animoque, 
Unde refert nobis victor quod possit oriri 
Quid nequeat, finita potestas denique cuique 
Quanam sit ratione atque alte terminus haerens, 
Quare religio pedibus subjecta vicissim 
Opteritur, nos exaequat victoria caelo." 

Lucret. De Nat. i. 62-^79. 

Agnosticism. 12 1 

the "vivida vis animi" which neither the 
" fama deiim nee fulmina" can terrify, over 
the Religion which has been the curse of the 
world's history. There are others whom it 
plunges, as in the vision of the German 
thinker 1 , into the blackness of darkness. They 
'"gaze -on the immeasurable world for the Di-. 
vine Eye, and it glares on them with an 
empty black bottomless eye-socket. They 
have laid them down to sleep, and they 
awaken in a stormy chaos, in the Everlasting 
Midnight, and there comes no morning, and 
no soft healing hand and no infinite Father." 
" Our little life is the sigh of Nature or only 
its echo. Mists fall and worlds reek up from 

* Jean Paul Richter, Siebenkas. I quote from Carlyle's 
Miscellanies, vol. n., p. 371 375 (ed. 1840). It adds to the 
almost terrific power of this vision of a world without God, 
that it is the Christ as the ideal representative of Humanity 
who is thus made to utter the blank despair of finding that 
His trust in the Father had been a delusive dream. Richter's 
own comment on what he had thus imagined is worth adding: 
" If ever my heart were to grow so wretched and so dead 
that all feelings in it which announce the being of a God 
were extinct there, I would terrify myself with this sketch of 
mine. It would heal me, and give me my feelings back" 
(P- 370). 

122 Agnosticism. ' 

the Sea of Death : the Future is. a mounting 
mist, and the Present is a falling one." You 
and I, my friends, have to look on this pic- 
ture and on that, and to ask the question, 
Have we indeed no Father ? Is there indeed 
no God ? If you deal honestly with your 
own spirits, if you do not close your eyes 
against the light, or narcotise the thoughts 
that accuse or else excuse each other, if you 
live by the light you have, even though it be 
but as the rays of a flickering torch shining 
through the mist and darkness, I have no fear 
for the result. I hold to the old belief that 
" The heavens declare the glory of God, and 
the firmament sheweth His handywork" 
that the order of the universe testifies to a 
Divine purpose working through the ages to 
a result which shall testify, not of limited 
Power or imperfect Goodness, but of a Su- 
preme Wisdom and Love victorious even over 
the freedom which seems to thwart them, that 
deep within the consciousness of each human 
soul there lies the capacity for knowing God,' 
the promise and the potency of a higher and 

Agnosticism. - 123 

Eternal Life. " He is not far from every' one 
of us," and in the contrite heart and pure 
which He prefers .above all temples, makes 
Himself manifest to those who diligently seek 
Him. Even from the scientific standpoint 
the phenomena of Theopathy 1 which thus 

1 I use the word as a' comprehensive expression of the 
whole cycle of emotions which connect themselves with the 
belief that men are in contact and communion with the 
Eternal, that they have found God, and that He is the 
Father of their spirits. They are found, it will be acknow- 
ledged, in every age, in every race, under all conditions of 
knowledge and creed and culture. In Moses and David 
and Job and Paul and ) John, in Socrates and Plato, in 
Augustine and Bernard and Tauler and a Kempis, in Hooker 
and Leighton and Herbert and Keble and Maurice and 
Erskine, in Mahometan Mystics and English Quakers, in 
millions of men and women of whom the world was not 
worthy, but whom it has not known, they have been as the 
very central passion of their being. They have been found 
historically with greater purity and intensity within the range 
of the influences of Christendom, and in proportion as those 
influences have been allowed to act, than in those who saw 
the Light that lighteth every man through more refracting 
media. They have been united, in the vast majority of cases, 
with a greater purity and holiness than was found in their 
absence, with a manifest power alike to strengthen and to 
soothe. Humanity has appeared in its noblest ideal of ex- 
cellence where they have most characterised it. What expla- 
nation has a merely materialistic science to offer of these 
phenomena? Are they all, from first to last, a delusion, a 
mockery and a snare ? Are these also automatic functions of 
the grey matter of the brain, or abnormal developments of 

I - - , ' ' 

124 Agnosticism. 

present themselves, arid which have been 
verified throughout the ages by experimental 

hysteria? Or are they witnesses that this is indeed the goal 
and consummation to which man's nature tends and in which 
it finds its completeness? 

It is obvious that it is on the reality of the grounds of 
these emotions that the whole question of the efficacy of 
prayer turns, and not on its power to produce changes in the 
outward phenomena of nature round us or in our material 
condition. We may ask for many things, and receive -not, 
because we ask amiss. We may ask for health and pros- 
perity, for rain and sunshine and plenteous harvests, and 
receive not, because it is better for us in the sum and total of 
things that we should be without that which we have asked 
for. We may ask and receive not, because we ask for that 
which comes under the dominion of a law which it is not the 
will of the Father to suspend or change, which, as soon as we 
know its existence, we recognise as wiser and better than any 
choice or wish of ours. But if we seek, not, as the Heathen 
seek, as Christians have too often sought, what we shall 
eat or what we shall drink or wherewithal we shall be 
clothed, but for the kingdom of God and His righteousness, 
there is surely a chorus of attestation that such prayers are 
answered. The crucial test of prayer would be found, not as 
suggested in the well-known letter to Dr Tyndall in the Con- 
temporary Review (xx. p. 305), in a comparison of results as 
regards material success in one Hospital Ward, for the patients 
in which people were praying outside, with those in another 
Hospital for which people were not praying (can we ima- 
gine, by the way, any one with a mind after the mind of 
Christ, praying that the sufferers in the latter might 'not 
recover, or leaving them, by an act of volition, unprayed 
for?) but in two Wards, in one of which the patients prayed 
for themselves and for each other as they have been taught 
by Christ to pray, while in the other, men had "nourished 

Agnosticism* 125 

tests., crave for an explanation and a theory 
as much as those of the material universe or 
of our physical life. To those who go be- 
yond that standpoint they will prepare the 
way for the fuller Apocalypse of all that may 
be known of God. To the worship of the 
Unknown and the Unknowable, leaving the 

a blind life within the brain," and never known what it was 
to lift their hands in prayer. We need not fear the result of 
such an experiment. Phthisis and cancer might do their 
work hi each, but in the one there would be, what physicians 
see too often, the picture of a lazar-house such as Milton has 
drawn : 

"Dire was the tossing, deep the groans: Despair 
Tended the sick, busiest from couch to couch; 
And over them triumphant Death his dart 
Shook, but delayed to strike, though oft invoked 
With vows as their chief good and final hope." 

Par. Lost, xi. 

In the other there would be what also they, at least, sometimes 
see, patience, and joy, and hope, and the faith that all is well, 
and trust in the Father who scourgeth every son whom He 
receiveth, and the calm surrender of their own wills to Hjs, 
and the readiness for death, or the willingness to remain. 
Are these lesser or greater goods than a rapid or slow re- 
covery, than the healing of the burning fever or the fractured 
limb ? Would not even the most dispassionate and sceptical 
practitioner admit that these-presented, not by the violation 
of law, but by its natural working, at least more favourable 
conditions than the other for the action of his best chosen 
remedies, or the vis medicatrix Natures ? 

126 Agnosticism. 

world to itself, we oppose, in the full as- 
surance of Faith, the worship of the Father 
and the Son and the Eternal Spirit of God 
manifested in Christ and reconciling the world 
unto Himself. 



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LIGHTFOOT (Rev. J. B.) continued. 

complete, he has paid special attention to everything relating to St. PauFs 
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MACLEAR -(Dr. G. T? .) continued. 

added to larger works. The Index has been. so arranged as to form a 
concise Dictionary of the Persons and Places mentioned in the course of the 
Narrative." The Maps prepared by Stanford, materially add to the 
value and usefulness of the book. The British.Quarterly Review calls it 
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larger book. . 


MACLEAR (Dr. G. F.) continued. - 


New Edition. i8mo. cloth limp, is. 

This Manual bears the same relation to the larger Old 'Testament, His- 
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the Celts, the Teutons, and the Sclav es -who had, -wave after wave, over- 
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chief of the courageous, men who devoted themselves to the stupendous task 
of their conversion and civilization, during a period extending from the 
yh to the i^tA century; such as St. Patrick, St. Columba, St. Colum- 
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Macmillan. Works by the Rev. HUGH MACMILLAN, LL.D.," 
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MACMILLAN (Rev. H., LL.D.J continued. 

THE TRUE VINE ; or, the Analogies of our Lord's 
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A contribution to Christian Evidence. By JOHN BROWN M 'CLEL- 
M. A., late Fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge. In Two 


M'CLELLAN (J. B.) continued. . 

Vols. Vol. I. The Four Gospels with the Chronological and 
Analytical Harmony. 8vo. 30?. 

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Theological Review, " in this department of sacred literature;" and the 
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Maurice. Works by the late Rev. F. DENISON MAURICE, 
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OLD TESTAMENT. Third and Cheaper Edition. Crown 
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The Nineteen Discourses contained in this volume were preached in the 
chapel of Lincoln's Inn during the year 1851. The texts are taken from 
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and Samuel, and involve some of the most interesting biblical topics dis- 
cussed in recent times. * 

TAMENT. Third Edition, with new Preface. Crown 8vo. 
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Mr. Maurice, in the spirit which ani?nated the compilers of the Church 
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none we have more need to contemplate. He has found that the Old 
Testament Prophets, taken in their simple natural sense, clear up many 
of the difficuities which beset us in the daily work of life ; make the past 
intelligible, the present endurable, and the future real and hopeful. 

A Series of Lectures on the Gospel of St. Luke. Crown 8vo. 9*. 

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the Christ, who says that He did come from a Father, that He did baptize 
with the Holy Spirit, that He did rise from the dead. I have chosen the 


MAURICE (Rev. F. D.) continued. 

one who is most directly connected -with the later history of the Church, 
who was not an Apostle, -who professedly -wrote for the use of a man 
already instructed in the faith of the Apostles. I 'have followed the course 
of the writer's narrative, not changing it under any pretext. I have 
adhered to his phraseology, striving to avoid the substitution of any other 
for his" 

THE GOSPEL OF ST. JOHN. A Series of Discourses. 
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THE EPISTLES OF ST. JOHN. A Series of Lectures 
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These Lectures on Christian Ethics were delivered to the students of the 
WorKing Men's College, Great Ormond Street, London, on a series of 
Sunday mornings. Mr. Maurice believes that the question in which we 
are most interested, the question which most affects our .studies and our daily 
lives, is the question, whether there is a foundation for human morality, 
or whether it is dependent upon the opinions and fashions of different ages 
and countries. This important question will be found amply and fairly 
discussed in this volume, which the National Review calls "Mr. 
Maurices most effective and instructive work. He is peculiarly fitted 
by, the constitution of his mind, ' to throw light on St. John's writings. " 
Appended is a note on "Positivism and its Teacher" 

The Prayer-book considered especially in reference to the Romish 
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After an Introductory Sermon, Mr. Maurice goes^over the various parts 
of the Church Service, expounds in eighteen Sermons, their intention and 
significance, and shews how appropriate they are as expressions of the 
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WHAT IS REVELATION? A Series of Sermons on the 
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MAURICE (Rev. F. D.) continued. . . :-,'. 

tJie opposite doctrine, and in his Sermons explains why, in spite of the high, 
authorities on. the other side, he must still assert the. principle -which he 
discovers in the Services- of the Church and throughout the Bible. 

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MAURICE (Rev. F. D.} continued. 

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SELBORNE (Lord) continued. 

It has been the Editor's desire and aim to adhere strictly, in all cases in 
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TEMPLE (Dr.) continued. 

"Great Men;" "Faith;" "Doubts;" "Scruples;" "Original Sin;" 
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TRENCH (Archbishop) continued. " 

beauty, and~Spplicability of each, concluding with what he deems its true 
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of Nature? III. The Authority of Miracles Is the Miracle to command 
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STUDIES IN THE GOSPELS. Fourth Edition, revised. 

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TRENCH (Archbishop) continued. 

and that all the chief difficulties of the New Testament are to be found 
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VII. Augustine on the Epistle to the Romans. VIII. Miscellaneous 
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SHIPWRECKS OF FAITH. Three Sermons preached 
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TRENCH (Archbishop) continued. ..;_'.: 

SERMONS Preached for the most part in Ireland. 8vo. 
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This volume consists of Thirty-two Sermons, the greater. part of which 
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VAUGHAN (Dr. C. I.") continued. 

OF ENGLAND. Fcap. 8vo. 6s. 

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Third and Cheaper Edition. Extra fcap. 8vo. 5-r. 
Each Lecture is prefaced by a literal translation from the Greek of 
the paragraph which forms its subject, contains first a minute explanation 


VAUGHAN (Dr. C. J.) continued. 

of the passage on -which it is based, and then a practical application of 
the -verse or clause selected as its text. 


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" II. The Church of the Gentiles. Third Edition. 
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VAUGHAN (Dr. C. J.) continued. 

with suitable Prayers. Tenth Edition. Fcap. 8vo. is. 6d. 

tion of Man, and the Temptation of Christ. Lectures delivered in 
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YONGE (Charlotte M.) continued. 

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The large acceptance which has been given to " The Book of Praise" 
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tensively used in Congregations, and in some degree at least meet the 
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The arrangement adopted is the following : 

PART I. consists of Hymns arranged according to the subjects of the 
.Creed ^ God the Creator," "Christ Incarnate," "Christ Crucified," 
"Christ Risen," "Christ Ascended," "Christ's Kingdom and Judg- 
ment" etc. 

PART II. comprises Hymns arranged according to the subjects of the 
Lord's Prayer. 

PART III. Hymns for natural and sacred seasons. 
There are 320 Hymns in all.