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each other a few weeks ago, and the talk turning on Colenso's book, they both, while not approving of its sentiments or endorsing its objections, agreed that it would do good in the way of securing a thoroughly careful and complete exploration of the authorship, character, and evidences of the Pentateuch. We entirely concur with this feeling after all we have previously said against the Bishop's book, and we cannot but recall the words of the illustrious man we alluded to in the previous page-Chalmers - which we once heard the glorious old man read to his theological class, his face the while flushing with enthusiasm, his eye glaring, and every limb and every feature, and every grey hair trembling with excitement ! “ We are not disposed to blink a single question that may be started on the subject of the Christian evidences. There is not one of its parts or bearings which needs the shelter of a disguise thrown over it. Let the priests of another faith ply their prudential expedients and look so wise and so wary in the execution of them. But Christianity stands in a higher and a former attitude. The defensive armour of a shrinking or timid policy does not suit her. Hers is the naked majesty of truth, and with all the grandeur of age, but with none of its infirmities, has she come down to us, and gathered new strength from the battles she has won, in the many controversies of many generations. With such a religion there is nothing to hide. All should be above boards. And the broadest light of day should be made to circulate freely through all her secrecies. But secrets she has none. To her belong the frankness and the simplicity of conscious greatDess, and whether she grapple with the pride of philosophy or it stand in fronted opposition to the prejudices of the multitude, she does it upon her own strength, and spurns all the props and all the auxiliaries of superstition away from her.”
We have thus already indicated one way at least by which scepticism shall cure itself by bringing in gradually, and sometimes in its own despite, confirmations to the clearness and additions to the magnitude of Christian truth. That truth is of the most elastic and expansive character. Like the ample arch of heaven, it folds round ten thousand different orbs, and were there ten thousand more created it would accept and include them too. It trembles not at geology with its long ages-even while admitting that the true reconciliation between that science and Genesis, has not yet arrived It glories in astronomical discovery, but continues to believe that. while the telescope has exalted man toward the heavens, the Son of Man has come down from above them, and brought a message directly from the Throne of God. Before the infant science of ethnology it does not as yet bow, but is not unprepared to grant obscurity, allegory, and abridgment in those earlier histories of the
102 CURSORY THOUGHTS ON THE RELIGIOUS DOUBTS OF THE DAY.
human race, which Scripture has preserved. It admits immense difficulties in parts of the Record, but it does not altogether despair of their solution, and its confidence in the Book as a whole is unshaken. And it not only admits, but believes, the Bible to prediet a coming period, when there shall be great, and perhaps, supernatural accession to spiritual truth, “when the light of the moon shall be as the light of the sun, and the light of the sun as the light of seven days, and when all shall know the Lord from the least to the greatest." May we not compare the progress of Christianity to that of a great summer sun, often strangled by clouds or bedimmed by mists, but which, ere evening breaks forth in rounded majesty and victorious might; and then, strange to tell
, it is found that every slightest speck and wreath of morning mist
, and wing of mid-day thunder cloud is there has followed the Monarch of the skies; but is there a captive to his power and has followed, to swell, by its borrowed radiance the full glory of his beams.
In reference to the cure of individual doubt, we have only to say that as the evils of knowledge are always best cured by knowledge, so, as inquiry frequently causes scepticism, it is the best cure for it. It was fabled of the spear of an ancient hero, that while its one end was deadly, the other possessed a balsamic virtue, and alone could heal the wounds inflicted by the point. And so it is inquiry, and inquiry alone, which can satisfactorily cure the wounds inflicted by inquiry. But let it be remembered, and that too by Christians as well as by sceptics, that inquiry should not be onesided, but should be candid, continuous, and wide; that it should be pursued in that spirit of humility, which was the spirit of Bacon and Newton as well as of Christ, and with that devout earnestness, of which prayer (not prejudiced, but honest and simple-hearted prayer), is the mere necessary outcome and heaven-seeking flower. Modesty especially be comes those who from their youth or their want of time and learning must pursue such inquiries under great disadvantages
. And while this should be the spirit of inquirers, surely that of those whose minds on main points are made up, should be that of deep sympathy, of yearning tenderness, of great allowance and forbearance for the young, the half-informed, and the perplexed. By the display of such feelings, they will do immensely more than by popular clamour, bitter persecution, or controversial heat, to stay the dark fever of doubt, and may thus bring back thousands, who might otherwise have wandered all their life long among the tombs exceeding fierce, and unutterably miserable, to come and sit down clothed and in their right inind at the feet of Jesus.
ON THE EVILS OF AMIABILITY AND THE
ADVANTAGES OF A BAD TEMPER
There is a common, and not unnatural prejudice in favour of amiable people. It cannot be denied that there is very much to be said on their behalf. They are the springs and buffers which break the shock of social collisions. In times of strife and discord they act the part of the feather-beds which besieged citizens used to hang upon their walls to deaden the blows of battering-rams and cannon balls. They supply the grease which lubricates the wheels of the great machine of society, diminishing friction and giving smoothness of motion. A state of society in which everybody was hard and angular would be simply intolerable. There needs the interposition of some soft padding between the less amiable members of the human family to allow of their being packed comfortably or travelling safely. But for the presence of a fair proportion of goodtempered people in society everybody's elbow would be in everybody's else's ribs, to the extreme discomfort of all. This and much more which might be urged in favour of amiability I fully admit. All which I contend for is, that this grace of character is apt to be held in exaggerated estimation, and to be rated far too highly. Whilst the suffrages of the world are so decidedly and unanimously on one side, I may be allowed to suggest a few considerations on the other.
Let it be considered, First, how much of the amiability which the world agrees to praise is nothing more than weakness of character. It is simply a negative quality. Its possessors have not strength enough to be anything else. A thrifty housewife of my acquaintance, when she brings to table a dish which seems to be absolutely tasteless, calls my attention to its delicate flavour. Not a few of the amiable people whom I know are just of this character. They taste of nothing.
Soft, impressible, taking their tint like the chameleon, from the hue of surrounding objects
, and having no decided colour of their own, they agree with everybody, and are always of the opinion of the last speaker. John Bunyan's Pliable Was doubtless considered a very amiable man by his fellow townsmen. Some might call him a hypocrite for pretending to agree first with Obstinate, then with Christian, then with Obstinate again. I have no doubt, however, that he was sincere all through -as sincere
, that is, as such weak natures can be. For there can be no true sincerity without a certain measure of strength and steadfastness. We may invert the apostolic canon, and say, " an unstable man is double-minded in all his ways.” “My friend Softly is a case in
point. He never quarelled, and has very seldoin disagreed with anybody in all his life, hence he is constantly quoted as the type of an amiable man. I, who know him well, and esteem him after a fashion, know that his frequent changes of opinion are pot hypocrisy and are not toadyism, but simply weakness. His character wants backbone. The poor fellow often upbraids himself with this popular defect, and sometimes suspects himself of actual dishonesty. His friends compliment him on his good temper and amiability, but be feels their eulogy to be a reproach, and is humbled by it
, for he knows that what they praise as a virtue is really a lamentable foible.
Want of moral courage is but one form of the general feebleness of character which gets the reputation of amiability. This sometimes arises from sheer cowardice, but more often from the absence of any strong convictions upon the questions in dispute. We hear a good deal of mutual self-congratulation at the present day about the increase of kindly feeling amongst the various sects of Christians There is much toleration, very little persecution for conscience sake, a general agreement to allow others to differ from us. Now, all this is very amiable and very pleasant; but it is a grave question whether it does not spring from the decay of strong faith and steadfast belief. We are earnest for nothing, because we are sure of nothing. We have not zeal enough either to persecute one another, or to brave for ourselves that petty persecution which we should have to endure if we had strong convictions, and avowed them, if we boldly rebuked wrong doing, — denounced error and maintained unfashionable opinions in the presence of those who differed from 115 That this amiable weakness makes things pleasant cannot be denied. But when we boast of our mutual forbearance, and censure the stern intolerance of former days, it would be well for us to inquire whether the gain has been all on one side. The persecutors were prepared to undergo martyrdom in their turn. If they persecuted ruthlessly it was because they believed strenuously, and could suffer courageously. We have escaped from their intolerant spirit by the loss of their uncompromising convictions, and steadfast faith and stern adherence to principle.
Amiable people are commonly deficient in the faculty of indignation. They can see meanness and turpitude triumph without being impelled to an indignant protest against it. It stirs them to no anger. They are strangers to that excitement of soul which flames forth in burning words against the oppressor or wrong doer. The language of stern invective, of vehement rebuke is never heard from their lips. They “ prophesy smooth things.” And if ever they are obliged to express disapproval they do so in inoffensive phrases which fall powerless and hurt nobody. The Jewish prophets would never have been considered amiable persons. They called things by their right names. They hated evil with a very cordial and
healthy hatred. And since there can be no such thing as sin in the abstract, since evil must always be embodied in some living personality, they gave expression to that feeling in very plain spoken termis, not against sin merely but against sinners. They did not venture respectfully to intimate that the king was mistaken on a question of fact; they said that he had told a lie. Instead of suggesting that the priests might with advantage cultivate rather more spirituality of mind in their ministrations at the altar, they bluntly declared that the Temple services were an abomination to God and man. They singled out the offenders by name, denounced their crimes publicly, and called upon heaven and earth to bear witness against them. They indulged far too much in personalities and in scathing invectives to receive the title of amiable men. What are we to say of John the Baptist when he called highly respectable Sadducees and Pharisees a “generation of vipers "? We are afraid that even John the Apostle would hardly have been considered an amiable person if he had lived and written his epistle in our time, for he calls men “liars,” “murderers," "children of the devil,” with many similar denunciatory epithets. The sleek, smooth, comfortable ethics of the present day may not improbably find cause of offence in these remarks on anger and indignation. For it is the modern fashion to emasculate morality by divesting it of the sterner and more manly qualities. It is forgotten that hatred is but love acting inversely'; that there can be no healthy love of virtue without hatred of vice, no zeal for good without a corresponding zeal against evil, and no hearty commendation of the right and true, without that outspoken indignation against the wrong and the false which is its complement. The text “ Be ye angry and sin not ” may be interpreted in more senses than one.
Most fitly and wisely does South in his masterly sermon on Man created in God's image place anger amongst the emotions of Adam in Paradise
. He says “ Anger there was then like the sword of justice, keen—but innocent and righteous. It did not act like fury, and then call itself zeal. It always espoused God's honour ; and never kindled upon anything but in order to a sacrifice. It sparkled like the coal upon the altar, with the fervour of piety, the heat of devotion, the sallies and vibrations of a beneficial activity."
The reluctance to give pain or cause offence to another, which forms the best element in a truly amiable character may, under certain circumstances, unfit a man for his specific work. In the rough battle of 'life hard blows have to be given and re
A reformer must not be thin-skinned. He should be pachydermatous if he is to force his way through the jungle of error or wrong, and tread it down. Revolutions are not made with rose-water," nor are reforms accomplished without pain or loss. The man who would contend successfully against evil must not be