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mortals, and those often the very worst of them. So sceptics are the most timid and fearful of all men in the dark, and the most credulous and suspicious of influences which they cannot understand or interpret.*
Ignorance, and error, and credulity, therefore, are the necessary effects and accompaniments of want of faith, and of the narrowing down our reception of truths and facts to the limits of reason of our own more or less shallow individual reason,—and the experience of our own single generation of our own individual experience: which is made the test of the possibility of all truths, and facts, and statements, and evidences. And these are the characteristics of this present boastful, proud, self-sufficient, contemptuous generation.
Mr. Palmer has concluded his comprehensive and succinct analysis of Church History, by drawing a fearful picture of infidelity upon the Continent. With reverential regard he draws a veil over the present state of the Church in this country, and expresses the faint outline of his observations on this head only by a suggestion and a hint. Though England,” he says, “ has, through the infinite mercy of God, been comparatively unvisited by the scourges which have so
“ Behold yon wretch, by impious fashion driven,
Believes and trembles, while he scoffs at Heaven;
Brown, Essay on Satire. See the superstitions of the infidel D'Argens described in the Edinb. Rev. No. cli.
horribly afflicted the nations of the Continent, and though open infidelity has been always met, confronted, and subdued by the energy of religious zeal, it cannot but inspire alarm to behold the wide dissemination of principles which tend, by a very short descent, to the overthrow of all faith.”
Yet in the fact that, while yet young, Voltaire retired to England, where he became acquainted with several unbelievers like himself, and, in effect, completed his education in the school of unbelief, and that there he formed his resolution to destroy Christianity, is indicated the part which England has been acting in this crusade against the faith.
I trust that it is not less consistent with a filial reverence and love of one's country, and of the branch of the Church in these realms, to fill up this picture, and to place before men's eyes the full and fearful truth; which unless they see and know, and confess, and be ashamed of, they cannot correct it.
NEED OF A MORE PERFECT CHRISTIANITY.
WANT OF UNITY-PROMISES TO THE CHURCH-MIXTURE OF HEATHEN
ISM-CHRISTIANITY NOT THE RULING PRINCIPLE_DOCTRINE
PERFECT-THE BIBLE A SEALED BOOK-SEEMING PARADOXES AND INCONSISTENCIES-LANGUAGE, REASONING, FIGURES OF SCRIPTUREOUR MINDS AND TASTES FORMED UPON THE CLASSICS-QUR HABITS
HEATHEN-THE CLASSICS CORRUPT US-OPINION OF JOSEPHUS-OF
JONES OF NAYLAND-A BETTER LITERATURE WANTED-THE ASIATICS
-EUROPEAN CIVILIZATION-CHINESE CIVILIZATION-JEWISH LITE
We must look for a more perfect Christianity, both in doctrine and practice, than that which characterizes the present generation, and, perhaps, than has existed, except in a very few small societies, or among a few individuals, whose examples have been solitary; and who have never formed a component part of their generation. Such rare instances of religious perfection could be but imperfectly understood by the rest of the world and but imperfectly recorded. But further than this, it is even to be apprehended, that the present current of principles and opinions is not in the direction towards, but away from, this desired end; and that a great revulsion and moral regeneration must take place before we shall know fully, and be able to appreciate, in effect, what real Christianity is.
At all events we are not agreed among ourselves upon this subject; and those who assert that Christianity in its highest essence is universal equality and philanthropy, -and those who assume that it is a realizing of faith in the Atonement,—and those who say that it is works as well as faith,—and those who insist that real Christianity is wholly spiritual, and is consistent with nothing that is outward or ceremonial,—will respectively say that those who hold the other doctrines have need of a higher instruction ;-and therefore it may not be so absurd to conjecture, that there may be error in all these, and in all the other systems of Christianity which have, each in their turns, asserted their own perfection. When our Lord was asked by the woman of Samaria, whether Samaria or Jerusalem were the place where men ought to worship, he did not approve of either as exhibiting a sufficient standard of worship; but referred her to a yet unseen and more perfect form of worship. And this very circumstance of the existence of divisions in the Christian world, the fact that there is a want of unity in the Church, that Christ is divided, is of itself a sufficient evidence that the doctrine and practice must be corrupt, and that the Church is degenerate. It is truly said by Mr. Newman, in one of his most highly esteemed works, “that purity of doctrine is one of the privileges thus infringed, is plain from the simple fact, that the separate branches of the Church do disagree with each other in the details of faith : discordance, which once was not, among the witnesses of the truth, being the visible proof of its being impaired.” And again, “It is upon this very fact of the schism that I ground
the corruption of doctrine; the one has taken place when and so far as the other has taken place.
In approaching this subject, it must be further observed, that those who are of opinion that Christianity was never more perfect than at the present moment, must submit the whole of Christianity, as hitherto exemplified, to the tests and scrutinies which it is purposed to apply to the existing state of it;—and those who, on the other hand, believe that primitive Christianity was different from that which now is, and altogether pure and perfect, must see and feel that we have now no knowledge of it: no capability to measure and appreciate it; but that as regards us it is, as it were, a hidden thing and a mystery. If we have misunderstood and departed from the perfection of the Gospel, we must have misunderstood and departed from that also.
But the following remarks are chiefly directed to those persons who think that Christianity, as enforced and illustrated in the Bible, has already arrived at its perfection, and who are looking for something further and more exalted, as an attainment of human nature, towards which the present revealed Christianity is but a step. And I earnestly intreat, that when I speak of a more perfect Christianity, I may not be misunderstood as supposing that religion, like sciences, improves by discovery, or as looking, with pretended foresight, beyond that which is revealed; but that I may be considered as proposing proofs only of this assertion, that Christianity, as revealed in the Old and New Testaments, is as
* Newman on Romanism and Popular Protestantism, p. 246, 249. See the whole passage, p. 243 to 249.