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Much must be cleared away before any thing can be done ; and what is then done must be gradual, imperfect and unobtrusive. The agents in this work will have no open sesame” to men's hearts nor any talisman to transfigure vice into virtue. And should they, in some rare cases, be fortunate enough to do so in a briefer time than the change would have seemed to demand, let it still be remembered, that the kingdom of God cometh not with outward show, and that great moral improvements may take place upon many, without altering the aspect of the social or local world. No star rests upon the cabins and hovels in which the Son of God is “ born again” in the hearts and lives of his recovered followers; and the wise men” would give a very strange evidence of their wisdom, who should expect that, in traversing the pauper districts of a great city, they should be enabled to determine the portions assigned to the Ministers to the Poor, either by splendours above or by signs below.
To the just and fair demands of its supporters, we are well assured that the ministry will answer. But it has not yet been tried, either for a time or upon a scale corresponding to its nature and its importance. Meantime we rejoice to feel that it is gradually making way. From America it has passed into this country; and in those of our chief cities, London, Manchester, and Liverpool, its agents are now operating under their respective local societies. In a few years we have little doubt that it will be extended to other towns and districts; and that it will then be found an instrumentality, such as the state of things has long vainly called for, and such as is capable of substantiating every just and rational expectation, that the good have formed for the erring, and the prosperous for the wretched.
ART. VI.-THE CAUSES OF THE INTENSER ZEAL
IN FANATICS THAN IN LIBERALS.
To the Editor of the Christian Teacher. The most remarkable fruit of my experience in the moral and intellectual world, is a conviction that only the fanatics are thoroughly sincere in the reliance which they profess to feel on their principles. I do not mean to slander all that other large portion of society who profess to act in accordance with reason directed and enlightened by principles. I am indeed convinced that only an exceedingly small number are on their guard against the innumerable sources of deception which most of the civilized nations (and none certainly more than England) have prepared and maintain, for the purpose of bribing the will, in spite of the conscientious reason. But I am also certain that there are many who wish to be honest, and are not conscious that they have been influenced in a thousand ways, to assist more or less in the system of downright deception, which is deliberately carried on by many most influential and powerful men. What observation has taught me is, that both the Reformers and the Reformed of our days are generally men of little faith in their own principles. This is not, however, a necessary result of corrupt motives.
I put aside with equal contempt the hypocritical Reformer and the hypocritical Conservative. The present object of my attention is that very common, but still respectable character which acknowledges the existence of a great number of errors and abuses; wishes for improvement, and is even ready to sacrifice something to Reform; but which, at the same time, feels a decided fear, amounting frequently to horror, of every man who wishes to show the whole extent of the evils which call for a remedy. Compare such men with the apostles of Conservatism in Church and State, and probably you will be tempted to suspect that the body of reformers is for the most part composed of people who love a certain degree of excitement, a moderate degree of exercise for their discursive faculties, and a cheering acceleration of their pulse, such as a pointed passage against error and corruption seldom fails to occasion at a public Meeting, in the leader of a newspaper, or in a smart article of a Review. I know indeed few Reformers, either personally or in print, who appear to me really to wish for more than to keep the enemy in check : of progress they are quite afraid ; the boldest of them shrink back with horror when the root of our evils begins to be laid bare. The Fanatic, on the other side, is heart and soul in his work; he fully knows what he desires, and pursues his object with all the fire of a lover.
I do not point to this contrast (which any unprejudiced man may easily carry into the most striking details) in the way of reproach to the one side, and of praise to the other. My wish is only that it be noticed, and its real source discovered and studied. When this shall be done, the truly sincere amongst us will be able to discover the cause of their own weakness, and of the truly formidable strength of the adversaries. Few, I fear, will have courage to adopt, in the promotion of Truth, the decision displayed in the ranks of error and old abuse; but many, I hope, will be ashamed of their desultory and timid mode of warfare.
The earnestness, devotion, and union, which appears among the supporters of established error and abuse, are not virtues In regard to the intellect, I beg you to observe that a partial view is easily comprehended. When ignorance, prejudice, and self interest, disguised as religion or public spirit, or both, concentrate the eye of the mind upon one spot, the vividness and strength of conviction are in direct proportion to the smallness of the circle embraced. Men, under such circumstances, have no doubts, and do not suspect their existence, or even their possibility. They possess another great advantage in the union produced by the definiteness of the object to which the whole party devote their zeal.
The long duration of any political system, or of any part of its organization, proves that it cannot consist of pure evil. Among the many profound observations of Aristotle, I have always been struck with the truth and practical usefulness of his remark, that perfect evil cannot exist, for it would surely destroy itself It is, then, that saving and vivifying portion of truth in the most erroneous opinions, and of good in the most pernicious establishments, which constitute their strength; for both, being very partial, are more suited to vulgar and limited capacities than any very extensive benefit, or very comprehensive truth. Habit, besides, directs the eye of the multitude to those fragments and pieces of gold with which error never fails to ornament its nakedness; and their partial, but clear and distinct, glare becomes a pole-star to the crowd. Hence the strong union of the supporters of old systems, and the consequent respect which they generally obtain from what appears their steadiness. It is only in the extreme cases of universal oppression wantonly exercised by Conservatives, that a keen hatred of their tyranny creates a union among Reformers sufficiently strong to counteract their own.
There exists at this moment a striking illustration of these remarks in the melancholy state of Spain. The Carlists, those really blind and contemptible supporters of one of the most abominable systems of superstition and tyranny which have ever oppressed any portion of civilized society--the Carlists, though a small minority, are more than a match for the Spanish friends of Liberty and Reform. The Carlists appear besides, in the eyes of a considerable part of Europe, as more deserving of respect than the illagreed multitude whose confused cries for Liberty seem to be all that they are able to oppose to their adversaries. Another remarkable circumstance is the clear superiority which the soldiers of the Pretender have established over those of Liberty. What can be the reason of this difference? The main bodies of the contending armies are composed of contemporary Spaniards, equally brought up under the same demoralizing and degrading influences. What, then, is it that makes the Carlists more like the old Spanish troops, whose courage and discipline, in spite of their ferocity, were respected by all the world? Nothing, in my opinion, but the definiteness of their view, as opposed to the vagueness and uncertainty which prevail among the Liberals. The most ignorant among the supporters of an absolute Monarchy has a perfectly distinct idea of that for which he fights; whilst the very leaders of the Constitutionalists would find it difficult to explain the precise aim of their efforts.
Would to heaven that the Reformers amongst us should never lose sight of the analogous source of weakness from which the main advantages of the English Conservatives arise! Their union is maintained without effort, by habit; ours, on the contrary, requires a succession of partial and collateral aims to maintain it. There must be a church-rate or a marriage-bill set up session after session, as the standard round which the irregular and mutually rival troops of Dissent shall unite for that occasion. What prospect of a well-grounded and steady progress can such tactics open before the eyes of the sincere and unprejudiced friend of the mental rights of mankind ?
But why do I plague you, my dear friend, with lamentations and complaints? You have not the power to remove the mental habits and prejudices which, like an old slave-brand, are still discoverable on many a Dissenting forehead. But I know that you will excuse a solitary man like myself, for pouring his unavailing longings and regrets into your bosom. Perhaps, when Death shall have given some weight to my opinions, and removed the inauspicious feelings which such a RADICAL on réligious points must occasion whilst life gives him the power to proceed farther and farther,—perhaps then you may inform some person, who, possessing wealth, and love of mental freedom, shall feel a friendly respect for my memory, that my favourite panacea was a Journal devoted to the free discussion among Unitarians of the questions relating to Christianity which have been proposed by the Germans. Liverpool, August 1836.
We have received several new publications, which in the present Number we are only able to notice. To some of them we shall afterwards return.
The Boston Quarterly Review.-We are glad to have this precedent for a Quarterly of but very scanty dimensions.
The Present State of the Religious World Represented, in a Discourse delivered in the High-street Chapel, Warwick. By William Field, for forty-eight years Minister of the Chapel. Pp. 44.
The Naturalist, illustrative of the Animal, Vegetable, and Mineral Kingdoms. Edited by Neville Wood, Esq. Vol. III, No. xxi. Whittaker and Co.
The Varieties of Human Greatness; a Discourse on the Life and Character of the Hon. Nathaniel Bowditch, LL.D., F.R.S. By Alexander Young. Pp. 119. Boston: Charles C. Little and James Brown, 1838.
The Theology of the Old Testament; or a Biblical Sketch of the Religious Opinions of the Ancient Hebrews from the earliest times to the commencement of the Christian Era. Extracted and translated from the Theologie des Alten Testaments of Georg Lorenz Bauer, Professor of Oriental Languages and Biblical Criticism at Heidelberg. Pp. 165. 8vo. London: Charles Fox, Paternoster-row.
The object of this work is thus stated in a brief introduction :
What is the relation of God to man; and what the relation of man to God? An inquiry of higher importance, one of more vital and eternal interest to every individual, never has been, and never can be, proposed to the human understanding. It has engaged the attention of mankind in every age, and the reply, always corresponding with the existing degree of mental culture, has varied in each progressive stage of civilization.
It is intended in the following pages to examine what were the opinions entertained concerning these relations of God to man, and of man to his Maker, by the ancient Hebrews. We shall endeavour to place before the reader an impartial investigation of their ideas of God, and their