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mood. They demand, but they at the same time reward, close attention. While the arrangement of his matter is clear, his reasoning is singularly close and logical. His well-constructed periods, teeming with thought, and his resolute habit of looking at every side of his subject, and his almost judicial balancing of opposing arguments, remind us of the writings of Sir James Mackintosh ; but, unlike that distinguished man, Mr. Gordon's mind never seems embarrassed by its candour and comprehensiveness, but as resolutely as calmly goes steadily forward to the right conclusion.
The subject handled in this Unitarian Association sermon is timely as it is important. So many new and crude speculations have of late years been put forth by some of our friends, not only respecting the nature of Faith, but also respecting its foundations and evidences, that we receive with gratitude this able and satisfactory discussion of the subject.
Mr. Gordon describes Faith as the form in which truth possesses and is possessed by the spiritual faculties it affects” (p. 8). With a view of preventing the misconception that he regards Faith as merely an intellectual exercise, he adds in a note (p. 39), "Faith cannot by any means be said to have fulfilled its
proper work, when it has only accepted the truth to which it refers; its power is especially shewn in the trust to which it gives rise.” After establishing these views, the preacher combats the unphilosophical and unscriptural dogma, " that religious opinion is a matter of comparative indifference, and that all we have to do is to cultivate the mere sentiment of religion, irrespective of the particular doctrines with which it may be united.” We would recommend to our readers' careful attention the remarks on this subject (pp. 10–17). They will find in them a most lucid statement of the relations of theology and religion, and an explanation of the fact, sometimes alleged as a plea for doctrinal indifference, that the religious sentiment is found in vigorous action under the influence of opinions the most dissimilar. It is in the application of his doctrine of the moral power of faith, that the preacher puts forth all his strength. He shews that the relation in which Unitarians stand to Christian faith, is and can only be faith in their own idea of Christianity; this they must uphold and apply in all the departments of Christian action to which they may be called (p. 22), Subsequently the preacher unfolds the modifications which the principle admits and sometimes requires,-modifications which lead to a liberality and charity as comprehensive as any obtained by indifference, and based on a far nobler principle.
Thus wisely does Mr. Gordon discuss the embarrassing subject of the tendencies to unbelief developed in the Unitarian body:
“It would be foolish to hide from ourselves the fact, that Unitarianism, both by its nature and its relations, possesses some tendencies to unbelief which require to be carefully watched. "I state this as a fact, under the full conviction that it possesses at the same time greater facilities for the establishment of a firm and earnest faith in Christianity than any other form of Christian doctrine which does or can exist. It is, indeed, the very rationality of its system--that character by which it most commends itself to faith—which presents the strongest temptation to the abuse I am pointing out. The severe investigation by which its conclusions are commonly arrived at, and the rejection of popular dogmas which they imply, naturally create a habit of mind consistent with themselves. That habit, if it be not wisely regulated, may forbid the adoption of settled principles of trust in the subjects with which it concerns itself. This tendency is, moreover, encouraged by what I have before alluded to-the con troversial position which Unitarianism is, under present circumstances, obliged to occupy. To support itself, it has to oppose what it regards to be the errors around it; and, in fulfilling this opposition, it has to withstand the great mass of the Christian world. By this means, the points of its faith are familiarized to its adherents chiefly in their negative form; and thus the spirit of objection which is likely to grow up with it under the most favourable auspices, is strengthened by the accidents of its situation. This state of things is rendered still more dangerous by the influence with which Unitarianism draws to itself numbers of persons whose only attachment to it arises from the renunciation of orthodoxy it involves. Many fly to it for shelter merely because they wish to avoid the imposition of adverse opinions, and having little or no sympathy with its own distinctive tenets. Among them, almost all shades of unbelief may be expected to prevail."-Pp. 29, 30.
is Now I would not for one moment cherish the desire that the liberty of our religious associations should be in the slightest degree restrained, so that they should no longer afford shelter to all who desire to avail themselves of them for that purpose, however negative may be the motives which prompt to that choice. Nay, I should regard myself as a traitor to the cause of truth as well as liberty, if I shrank, here or elsewhere, from vindicating the equal religious rights-rights equal with my own-which belong even to those who reject the Christian name. I should consider it a perversion of Christianity itself to limit my religious sympathies to those whom the circle of the Gospel includes. But when I, believing Christianity to be the great power of God for the spiritual regeneration of mankind-when I, with a free and loving heart, do whatsoever justice and kindness can prompt me to do toward those who hold not my faith in Christianity-I expect them to act with the same equity and tenderness where my belief is concerned, as I am willing to display toward their unbelief. One thing, especially, I demand—that they should not compromise my Christianity by representing it as, or confoundi it with, anything like a repudiation of Christianity. To them, this may seem a matter of small importance. Perhaps they may think that they are honouring me by attempting to identify my views with theirs. To me, however, it is of vital importance that this should not be done. Between my retention of the Gospel, and my rejection of it, there is, to my mind, an infinite difference; and I would be judged on my own principles, not on those of another man. I ask for a generous treatment on this subject. He who thinks not with me, and feels not with me, on this the question, to me, of highest concern, should abstain from doing what may weaken in the least the strictly Christian position which I am of all things desirous of taking, and should estimate the character of all his efforts to advance his own views, by means of my influence, or under cover of my name, by what his conscience will tell him I, whose interests he is affecting, think of their character.”—Pp. 31, 32.
It is probably known to most of our readers that this portion of Mr. Gordon's sermon gave rise to a controversy in the Inquirer, only recently brought to a close, respecting the Christian name. From a very judicious note, referring to this controversy, added by Mr. Gordon to his sermon (pp. 41-43) we must, at whatever inconvenience to ourselves, find room for the following observations, which in a very short compass present considerations worthy of the most thoughtful regard of those who are disposed to entertain anti-supernaturalist opinions :
“I am told, on good authority, that there are persons who profess to believe that Jesus Christ did not make any pretension to miraculous operations, and who yet receive the accounts we have concerning him as furnishing an authentic representation of his character and teaching. Now, I am quite unable to discover any rational ground for the belief which has been thus described. It seems to me to be palpably absurd,-so absurd, indeed, that I cannot resist the conjecture that it must in most instances be adopted in a spirit of mere accommodation, without any serious investigation into the subject having been instituted. I have in my possession all the records relating to Christ which the persons who profess this belief have; and these two things appear to me very clear from the perusal of them. First, that no process of fair criticism will support the conclusion that Christ did not pretend (profess) to work miracles; and, secondly, that no adequate idea of his character and teaching can be obtained if the miracles attributed to him be rejected. These things seem to me so plain, that I should hardly think it worth while to dispute with a person who denied them.
“Under these circumstances I am persuaded that very few, indeed, can really entertain the kind of belief on which I am remarking. I think it would be generally found, on examination, that the description of this belief which I have quoted, did not accurately answer to the facts of the case. The probability, to my mind, is, that the miraculous pretensions of Christ are arbitrarily renounced, not that any evidence is obtained to produce the conviction that he did not make such pretensions : and I think it equally probable that the exalted views of his character and teaching which are held, do not arise merely from the natural events related in the Gospels, but from transferring the moral representations conveyed in his supernatural works to purely imaginary circumstances.
"Now to this mode of dealing with the subject I have the strongest possible objections.
“It involves an entire perversion of the character of the New Testament, redueing it from an authentic record of facts to an instrument which may be made to express just what the parties who employ it choose.
* It involves an exceedingly imperfect idea of the work of Christ, taking away from it its primary element, the personal exhibition of Deity which it embraced.
“It involves, moreover, a complete destruction of Christianity in any definite form, making it to assume all the changes which may adapt it to the infinite variety of opinion prevalent from time to time in the world." --Pp. 42, 43.
Mr. Gordon has gratified his feelings of “reverence and affection" towards one of the most honoured masters in our Israel by dedicating this noble sermon to the Rev. John Kentish.
The Doctrine of Jesus inseparable from the History of Jesus : a Sermon
preached before the West-Riding Tract Society, in St. Saviour-gate Chapel, York, on Wednesday, June 14, 1848. By the Rev. Chas. Wicksteed, B.A.,
of Leeds. The Four Constituents of the Christian Character: a Sermon preached July
5, 1848, on occasion of the Opening of the Unitarian Chapel, Gee Cross, Cheshire. By the Same.
The press has lately given us several of Mr. Wicksteed's sermons on public occasions, and we are thankful to those who so wisely chose their preacher for having thus made the public partakers also. Mr. Wicksteed is always appropriate, always judicious, always earnest, affectionate and practical, on such occasions; and it is well that sermons like these should have a wider audience even than that of a well-filled chapel, though the reader must necessarily be content to want the aid of voice and tone and manner, which gives to the discourse when spoken an indescribable and inimitable charm.
In our number for August we noticed Mr. Wicksteed's beautiful discourse for the London Domestic Mission, the delivery and publication of which has already, we understand, been the means of adding considerably to the list of supporters of that nobly Christian work.
The first of the two discourses now before us is as timely in its appearance as it is masterly in style. It is a distinct and uncompromising, though not combative, assertion of the claims of the historical and personal Jesus of the evangelists to be identified with Christianity as the life and soul of the religion. It explains the new theological fashion of a mythical Christianity and an impersonal Christ, as one of those oscillations often observable in the history of opinion, when from one error renounced the mind recoils into a different but opposite error while grasping a new truth, and must vibrate yet again, perhaps, into another but smaller fallacy before it gains the stable equilibrium of Truth. The sermon is published at an almost impossible price, in point of cheapness, by the West-Riding Tract Society. Every one who reads this notice will, we hope, make a point of obtaining the sermon.
The Four Constituents is a purely practical discourse, beautifully setting forth the proper union of the intellectual, the moral, the active and the aspiring elements of human nature, under the influence of Christianity, asserting the necessity of a due culture of each, and pointing out the evils which ensue to religion from the exaggeration of each in turn,
to the neglect of any of the others. After an introduction suitable to the opening of a new House of Worship, the preacher thus announces his immediate topic:
“However we may express them, the constituent elements of the perfect Christian cannot greatly vary from these, --Faith, Reason, Virtue, Love; or, in the forms of our nature required for the exercise of these, the soul, the mind, the strength, the heart. Or, if we seek to express them in the language of our ordinary secular life, Christianity, in its integrity and perfection, is a Hope, a Science, a Rule of Life, and a Sentiment. In numerous forms is the same truth clad in the pages of the New Testament; for we should vary in no important degree from these descriptions, if we took up the apostle Paul's declaration of the abiding things of the Christian covenant, --Faith, Hope, Charity; or the same apostle's impressive description of religion as the spirit of power, of love and of a sound mind.'
“In some or other of these great elements of Christian Perfection we must individually feel that we are too often deficient. We see too plainly that few of us combine within ourselves this holy union, this beautiful proportion. And what the modest Christian man will say and feel of himself, the modest creed and the modest church will say and feel of itself.”—Pp. 5, 6.
Universal Brotherhood. An Appeal for the House of Israel. By Henry
Hawkes, B.A., F.L.S. 8vo. Pp. 30. London-Hall and Co. 1848. We thank Mr. Hawkes for doing honour to the spirit of the religion of Jesus by this manly and affectionate plea for the religious liberty and civil rights of the House of Israel. Originally addressed as a sermon to an audience in London and to the author's own flock at Portsmouth, it now is published in a well-printed pamphlet. We extract a passage descriptive of the growth of opinion on the Jewish claims :
“It is not a hundred years ago that our own legislature first declared themselves ready to grant naturalization to resident Hebrews; and scarcely had the Royal assent set free the fears of the philanthropist, when the generous outburst of congratulations was overwhelmed by the returning torrent of intolerance; the British people were horror-struck at what they had done,
and Government were compelled to repeal the law. But times are changed. The tide sets in strong in favour of this prophetic people. Any act of barbarity against a Jew now, in whatever part of the world, excites abhorrence. The very declaration of a Jew's ineligibility to fulfil a trust confided to him by his fellow-citizens, strikes the tribunal compelled to declare the judgment with conscious inefficiency. These
antiquated dreads are felt to be encumbrances to the expansive spirit of a power#ful people. Every generous act in favour of our Hebrew brethren awakens spon
taneous delight. We rejoice to see Israelites led triumphantly into our municipal councils, raised to the borders of our peerage, seated on the bench of justice. Yet even now we pause in suspense. The citizens of London, for many centuries foremost in our struggles for progressive liberties, have selected a Jew to represent them in Parliament."-Pp. 19, 20.
PERIODICALS. Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine, September.-In a “Review of the last Session” with which this still clever Magazine opens, we have a dose of Toryism, which, now that it is practically innocuous, is sufficiently amusing. The evils with which the country has been assailed, are all set down to the credit of the Whigs, Mr. Cobden and Free Trade. No notice is taken of the signal success of Lord John Russell's government in protecting the institutions of the country from the combined attacks of Irish rebels and English Chartists. Sighing for the return of “patriotic principles,” by which the writer means Monopoly in Corn and High-Church-of-Englandism, he, with pleasant forgetfulness, asks for a Cabinet "resolved to release themselves from the trammels of a system which has fraud and selfishness for its foundation, and seeks to aggrandize a few at the sacrifice of the industrious many.” In a different and wiser spirit is the article written on the Life and Times of George II., as the following vindication of the principles of the Revolution of 1688 will shew:
“The diligence and determination seem wholly due to the spirit of the people. The Queen (Anne) was almost a Jacobite ; her Ministers carried on correspondence with the family of James; there was scarcely a man of influence in public life who had not an agent at St. Germains. Honest scruples, too, had been long entertained among individuals of high rank. Six of the seven Bishops who had so boldly resisted the arrogance of James, shrank from repudiating the claims of his son. It is true that nothing could be feebler than their reasons; for nothing could be more evident than the treason of James to the oath which he had sworn at his coronation. Its violation was his virtual dethronement-his abdication was his actual dethronement; and the principles of his family, all Papists like himself, rendered it impossible to possess freedom of conscience, while any one of a race of bigots and tyrants retained the power to oppress. Thus the nation only vindicated itself, and used only the common rights of self-defence, and used them only in the calm and deliberate forms of self-preservation."
The writer passes in review the principal personages who figured at the Court of George II., and his portraits are boldly and correctly drawn. Few now-a-days will dissent from his judgment on Sir Robert Walpole.
“It seems impossible to doubt that Walpole's character was essentially cor. rupt; that he regarded corruption as a legitimate source of power; that he bribed every man whom he had the opportunity to bribe; that he laughed at political integrity, and did his best to extinguish the little that existed ; that no Minister went further to degrade the character of public life; and that the period of his supremacy is a general blot upon the reign, the time and the people. The cele. brated Burke, in that magnanimous partiality which disposed him to overlook the vices of individuals in the effect of their measures, has given a high-flown panegyric on the administration of Walpole; but the whole is a brilliant paradox. He looked only to the strength of the Brunswick succession, and taking his stand upon that height, from which he surveyed grand results alone, neglected or disdained to examine into the repulsive detail. Seeing before him a harvest of peace and plenty, he never condescended to look to the gross and offensive material by which the furrow was fertilized. Nothing is more certain than that the daily acts of Walpole would now stamp a Ministry with shame; that no man would dare now to express the sentiments which form the maxims of the Minister; and that any one of the acts which, though they passed with many a sneer, yet passed with practical impunity in the days of George II., would have ruined the proudest individual, and extinguished the most powerful cabinet, of the last fifty years."
What the writer says of the policy of Walpole, we will say of that of Pitt. Now, thank God! it would not be tolerated a single week. The Memoirs of Lord Hervey, on which the article is founded, present a singular but intensely disgusting anatomy of a Court. We are amused, but we feel a kind of contempt for the writer proportioned to his success.
“If Lord Hervey's mind was exercised in giving the secret life of Courts to the world, we think that a much more contemptuous subject for the pencil might be found in the man who, earning his daily bread by his courtiership, pretended to independence of opinion; who, listening to every expression of Royalty with a bow, and receiving every command with the submission of a slave, threw off the sycophant only to assume the satirist, and revenged his sense of servitude only by privately registering the errors of those, the dust of whose shoes he licked for twelve hours in every twenty-four."
The publication of works like these Memoirs, holding up to view the vices and follies of the Great who lived more than a century ago, must surely awake some anxious thoughts in the breasts of those who now enjoy exalted rank which they do not adorn by knowledge, usefulness or virtue. Their portraits may amuse the readers of light literature of the 20th or 21st century. The thought may have its use. We cannot, therefore, agree entirely with the remark, that “no rational purpose can be held in view by indulging the posthumous malice of a discontented slave."