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We think that Mr. Smith might have strengthened his position by a bold statement of facts like these. The conclusion to which they conduct is inevitable, namely, that, since the human mind has not yet established in morals any principle which is good and which is not Christian, and since, where tentative efforts to frame au extra-Christian scheme of morals and of manners have been made, they have led to debasement not to improvement, the abandonment of Christianity by civilised nations would arrest their
progress, and be the signal for their decay. It was virtually an admission of this which Goethe made, when he declared that the human race, having once attained to Christianity, could not recede from it. Goethe saw that the basis of Christianity was broad enough to bear the pyramid of human advancement, however high it might ascend. Mr. John Stuart Mill makes the same admission in another way. He declares in his work on “Liberty” that there is no truth in ethical or political science with whích Christianity cannot be reconciled. He would probably allege, that much which passes for Christian morality has been discovered by modern thinkers and appropriated by the Christian Church. So be it. If Christianity contained, not only in germ but in development, all that the human mind can attain to, it would have consummated progress, but at the same time paralysed the faculties of the race. The religion which can assimilate all that is good, which is interpreted more correctly, which is better understood, with every advance made by man,-must be immortal. Of what other system, religious or philosophical, could this be said ? Surely it is too soon to discard Christianity, when even those who do not accept it cannot pretend that it is in the way.
There is one nation in which Christianity has really, to a large extent, lost its hold upon the public mind, and the account which Mr. Smith gives of it is particlulary good.
“ In France, perhaps, alone,” he says, “owing to peculiar disasters, not the least of which was the hypocritical re-establishment of Roman Catholicism by the statecraft of Napoleon, a really great estrangement of the people from Christianity has taken place. And what are the consequences of the estrangement to the progress of this great nation, which not a century ago was intellectually at the head of Europe, which seemed by her efforts to have opened a new era of social justice for mankind, and which the atheistical school desire now, in virtue of her partial atheism, to erect into the president and arbitress of the civilized world? The consequences are a form of government, not created by a supreme effort of modern intellect, but borrowed from that of declining Rome, which, bereft of Christian hope, immolates the future to the present; a despairing abandonment of personal liberty and freedom of opinion; a popular literature of heathen depravity; and a loss of moral objects of interest, while military
glory and material aggrandisement are worshipped in their place. If this state of things is progressive, what is retrograde?". The social morality which in France has superseded that of Christianity, the morality of French conjugal life, the morality which pervades the works of Balzac and Sand, the morality which, diffused through French literature, has corrupted the youth of Europe and of South America, might have furnished Mr. Smith with a pertinent illustration of that 'progress' to which men may hope to attain when they have left Christianity behind.
Having treated his subject in this admirably practical, but somewhat general manner, Mr. Smith grapples with it more closely by enquiring what is the root and essence of moral character, and asking whether Christian morality is sound and universal, and the Christian type of character perfect and final. He determines that " the root and essence of moral character” in man is benevolence; and concludes that Christianity, resting on the principle of love to our neighbour, cannot be outstripped by the advancing race “ The Type of Character,” he says, in a passage of some length, but which we make no apology for quoting, “ set forth in the gospel history is an absolute embodiment of love, both in the way of action and affection, crowned by the highest possible exhibition of it in an act of the most transcendent self-devotion to the interest of the
This being the case, it is difficult to see how the Christian morality can ever be brought into antagonism with the moral
progress of mankind; or how the Cbristian type of character can ever be left behind by the course of human development, lose the allegiance of the moral world, or give place to a newly emerging and higher ideal. This type, it would appear, being perfect, will be final
. It will be final, not as precluding future history, but as comprehending it. The moral efforts of all ages, to the consummation of the world, will be efforts to realize this character, and to make it actually, as it is potentially, universal
. While these efforts are being carried on under all the various circumstances of life and society, and under all the various moral and intellectual conditions attaching to particular men, an infinite variety of characters, personal and national, will be produced : a variety ranging from the * highest human grandeur down to the very verge of the grotesque. But these characters, with all their variations, will go beyond their source and their ideal only as the rays of light go beyond the sun.
as it passes through phase after phase of the historical movement, may advance indefinitely in excellence; but its advance will be an indefinite approximation to the Christian type. A divergence from that type, to whatever extent it may take place, will not be progress, but divergence and corruption. In a moral point of view, in short, the world may abandon Christianity, but it can never advance beyond it. This is not a matter of authority or
even of revelation. If it is true, it is a matter of reason as much as anything in the world.”
We cannot follow Mr. Smith into his brief but masterly exhibition of our Saviour's character, as the Christian type, or show with what easy triumph he refutes the exceptions taken by Mr. Newman to the perfection of Jesus of Nazareth. Every word of this part of the lecture is worthy of diligent study, and we earnestly recommend it to young men. Mr. Smith, with the ardour and hopefulness characteristic of his nature, believes that Christianity, instead of leaving the world, is about to beam forth with an effulgence which it has never yet displayed. He looks for a reunion among the Christian churches, and deems the circumstances of the time favourable to that consummation. He does not believe that one Church will convert all others to its peculiar tenets, but that Churches will universally lift up their eyes and find that they are, in essentials, one. The Papacy, “the grand cause of division in Christendom," he believes to be nearing the end of its death-agony of three centuries, and with it will, he thinks, pass away the obstacles to reconciliation and reunion throughout Christendom. Then will be seen a Christianity" as united, grand, and powerful, as capable of pervading with its spirit the whole frame of society, as fruitful of religious art and all other manifestations of religious life, as Christendom was before the great schism.” This is a cheering, as well as a devout imagination, but we are not so sanguine as Mr. Smith that it will soon be realized. We could wish also that Mr. Smith had been somewhat more explicit in discriminating between that which is "essential to religion in the eyes of polemical theologians” and ought to pass away, and that which is of the perennial nature of Christianity, and, therefore, indestructible. He has constructed an admirable vindication of Christianity as an ethical system ; we presume him to have equal confidence in its historical verity
Mr. Smith is known to the public as the philosophical antagonist of Professor Mansel, and as the advocate, politically, of the opinion that Great Britain ought to cut her Colonies adrift. In both these capacities we partially agree with him, partially dissent from his conclusions. He has spoken a great deal of sense on the subject of our Colonies, pointing out the irrationality of a relationship which is all expenditure on our side and all profit on theirs ; and setting in a clearer light than had ever been shed upon it before the fact which most clear-sighted men recognise, that Colonies, though gorgeous ornaments on the robe of empire, do not augment the real force of States. We have no hesitation in saying that, when Colonies are able to maintain themselves, and desire to be independent of the mother state, they ought to be permitted to go free. But we would not drive Colonies off so long as they remained loyal ;
and we do not think that it would be consistent with the honour, the dignity, or even the safety, of England, to incur the risk of beholding, in case of an European war, settlements formed by her children falling under the dominion of Russia or of France. In his controversy with Mansel, Mr. Smith does not appear to the highest advantage. We agree with him, indeed, that Professor Mansel's doctrine of moral miracle is untenable, and that no protection is afforded to the Christian mysteries by commanding reason to approach them blindfold. The Most High assuredly does not suspend the moral laws of the universe as He suspends the physical; if He did, the grand cause of physical miracle would be removed. "God cannot lie;" though he changes at will the physical causes of physical effects. Nor is reason to be debarred from her noblest exercise in “justifying the ways of God to man” by any a priori demonstration that the morality of the atonement is inscrutable. But when Mr. Goldwin Smith passes from Professor Mansel's application of Sir William Hamilton's doctrine of the Conditioned to that doctrine itself, he gets beyond his depth. Man is God's image ; divine and human morality are essentially the same; but man is finite, and, being finite, he cannot comprehend, he cannot conceive, an Infinité Being. To draw the line between finitude and infinitude, which was done, with magnificent comprehensiveness and marvellous perspicuity, by the great Scottish metaphysician, was a splendid service both to philosophy and theology. But Mansel has, we humbly think, misapprehended the nature of that service, and his work on the limits of religious thought, exquisitely ingenious as is its reasoning, and masculine as is its style, is not, in the main, conclusive. Vír. Goldwin Smith, however, is not versed in metaphysical speculation, and in that province he is not able to measure swords with his learned adversary. His strength is in the practical ; and long and widely may his influence prevail to kindle high aspirations in the breasts of England's youth, and to turn them from those reactionists of a Sadducean age whose cynicism would congeal every noble impulse into a sneer.
BISHOP COLENSO ON THE PENTATEUCH.
This much talked-of book is fast losing its popularity. We fear indeed that by reviewing it here in 1863, we commit an anachronism. Which of our readers has not pondered, perplexed
* The Pentateuch and Book of Joshua critically examined by the Right Rev. John William Colenso, D.D., Bishop of Natal. Longman. 1862.
himself, and finally put away the misgiving from his path, that be might go on in faith rejoicing ? The great arithmetical argument is not so much refuted as superseded. Phantoms of doubt, as conjured up by such books as “Essays and Reviews," or Dr. Davidson's last “Introduction,” may haunt the retirement of the bravest believer ; but the cabalistic numbers of our mathematical bishop raise no ghost to trouble the most sensitive. All the churches through, not one Thomas is heard to say, “Except I shall see how the proper accommodation was provided for the myriads of Israel in the wilderness, or accurately determine the statistics of Dan's great grandchildren, I will not believe." No: the difficulties are cheerfully confessed, some of the sums are very hard indeed to make right; but Christian hearts never admit the thought of solving the problem by surrendering their trust.
It is worth while to inquire into the reason of this fact, before proceeding to any arithmetical detail. Is the confidence a mere bravado? Are the faithful only shutting their eyes to unwelcome facts ? Or have they found the clue to the labyrinth of the bishop's figures? Some, whom we have met, profess to have done so; but the claim, often, no doubt, when analysed resolves itself into a conviction that some one else has solved the difficulty by a method or methods unknown. There is much fear lest å very ready and easy style of reasoning in such matters should be applied unwisely. The objections are old, all of them : they have been refuted over and over again.” It would, we suspect, be a puzzling task for some fluent talkers in this style, to show where else two or three of the difficulties are stated, and to point out the manner in which they have been settled. Undoubtedly several of Dr. Colenso's problems are ancient enough. Others are as certainly of his own invention; for the fact is, that many of his difficulties have never occurred to any body else who has thought it worth while to set them down in form and order ; while he has presented many others with a clearness and detail which no former assailant of the Pentateuch has rivalled. His appeal is to the practical English mind. The subtleties of the Essays and Reviews, the criticisms of Dr. Davidson, the learned incredulity of Von Bohlen
, have but little effect upon the mass. But, as it has been said, “everything great in England arises from the unhesitating conviction of all its inhabitants, that two and two make four ;' and this is precisely the conviction to which Dr. Colenso appeals
. His readers need not be theologians ; indeed if they are to be convinced, they had better not be so; they need possess no philosophic depth of thought—that also would be somewhat in their way: imagination, insight, and those which we are accustomed to term the finer faculties, are bidden away from the investigation: all that is required is the capability for understanding the conditions and reri