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All this unquestionably means Romanism. What it will be able to accomplish is another question. The strength of the party lies not only in the very doubtful language of some of the formularies, but in the fact that, even where the Ritualists may be convicted of opinions inconsistent with their subscription, they may take shelter under the equally anomalous position of other sections, and the general belief which has grown up that the clergy of the Anglican Church may believe everything in general, and nothing in particular. They are aided, too, by the singular weakness which has been shown by many of the bishops, who, if they do not sympathise, seem either unable or unwilling to offer any decided opposition, almost as much as by the more open favour that has been shown by others. The position taken by the Bishop of Salisbury is one of very grave significance, while some other facts that are cropping-up incidentally are hardly less serious. Thus, in one of the Tracts of the day, we are assured that at least two of the bishops (we hope that they were only Colonials) have consecrated oil for the Sacrament of Unction. When, indeed, the priestly idea is strong in the episcopal breast, there is every temptation held out to a bishop to cast in his lot with them. As there is no amount of contempt too great to direct against an unsympathising bishop, so there are no honours too exalted to be bestowed on one who, like the metropolitan of South Africa, will identify himself with the movement. For him the crozier is prepared, to him the most humble deference is shown, so that, even in this England in the nineteenth century, crowds will bow down to supplicate his benediction. No wonder that in some quarters the Romanisers find tacit connivance, in others open encouragement, and almost in all the want of that vigorous and decided resistance necessary to grapple with so serious an evil.
We must not, however, be deceived into the notion that these men have taken any strong hold upon the national mind. They show a laudable zeal, are liberal in the maintenance of their institutions, are unsparing in their labours for the poor, and show a remarkable readiness to avail themselves of all means for affecting the people. In these and other respects they are worthy of commendation and imitation. It is impossible to read such evidence as that given by the Rev. Benjamin Webb, Incumbent of St. Andrew's, Well Street, before the Ritual Commission, to the effect that his weekly offertory amounts to £2,500 a year, independent of £1,500 contributed in other ways, without feeling that there are lessons which all sections of the Church might with advantage learn from them. These manifestations of earnestness undoubtedly produce a strong impression, while the prominence given to the doctrines and work of the party by the
controversy that has been provoked, also gives the idea that they are materially influencing the opinion of the day. Still, while there is quite enough to deplore, their power is not so great as they would fain have us believe. Again we may appeal to Archbishop Manning, who is disposed to make enough of the growth of these Catholic tendencies, but who, while exulting in the changed tone of sentiment relative to his church, and hailing the work which is being done by these in reality his best collaborateurs, says, “I do not, indeed, believe that this current is a flood but only a stream; it is not the sweep of the ocean, but only of a path in the waters. The population of England is gradually setting away from these things, but there is a broad movement of men's minds towards a more perfect faith and worship. It seems contradictory to say that with this return towards the truth the hold of faith over the people has grown continually less ; but it is most certainly true. The masses are moving away, but individuals in great numbers are returning upwards to the light of faith." There is not much consolation in the idea that the masses are only saved from superstition by the utter decay of faith, but we attach more weight to the negative than to the positive side of the Archbishop's testimony, and may at all events rejoice that such a man does not see any marked signs of the "Catholic revival” among the masses of the people. It is for us and all Protestants by faithful work and believing prayer to guard against the other danger.
Still there is sufficient power in the new movement to render it imperative that we should meet it in a wise and Christian manner. We may be told, indeed, that the matter does not concern us as Nonconformists, but we cannot accept so narrow a view of our obligations. As Christians we have to do with all that affects the interests of Christ's truth and kingdom. As English citizens we have a natural right to express our judgment as to the proceedings of the Church which claims to be the Church of the Nation. While it accepts such a position it must be content to meet the criticisms of the whole people, whether they actually belong to its communion or not. We have our part to do in moulding that public opinion which must stamp its character on the National Church, and we are not to be regarded as meddlers in matters beyond our province, because, while we are Nonconformists, we still claim to exercise our privilege as citizens.
The present state of things must undoubtedly change the relations of many to the Establishment. The distinction has often been drawn by our opponents between religious and political dissenters, and it is not to be denied that there have been many conscientious Nonconformists indisposed for aggressive action against the Establishment. To such men the whole subject must present itself in a new light-and the very intensity and strength of their religious convictions will now forbid them to hold their peace, when they see those features in the National Church which they valued most rapidly disappearing, and its whole character changing, as one by one the distinctions between it and the Church of Rome are being effaced. With its communion tables converted into altars, whose priests arrayed in gorgeous vestments wait to offer the Sacrifice of the mass, with its churches so transfigured as to assume a Romanist character, with the practice of the confessional openly recommended by a considerable body of the clergy, there may still be men within the pale of the Establishment who believe it to be the great bulwark of Protestantism, but they can hardly expect Protestant Nonconformists to cherish the same happy delusion. Rather they may expect to find that the present movement will end the hesitations of those who have hitherto been content to adopt the laissez-faire policy, and unite all dissenters in an earnest effort to sever that connection of the Church with the State from which Ritualism derives so much prestige and power.
As to the conduct of the controversy which certainly awaits us, there is one point on which a word of caution may not be unnecessary. In the strength of our Protestant convictions might we not more correctly say, in the narrowness of our prejudices, we have too often proceeded upon the false assumption that Romanists were no better than baptized pagans, and have talked about preaching the Gospel to convert them, while all the time they have been regarding us as needing that conversion to Christianity ourselves. This is an unfortunate position for both parties to occupy, and we shall never deal with the controversy as we ought until we at least take a more manly ground, and give ourselves to understand the principles that give strength to Roman Catholicism and Ritualism. They must have some truth to account for their growth, and the error with which it is associated can never be counteracted by dwelling upon their weakness and calling bad names. We are sometimes told that the one way to meet Romanists and Ritualists alike is to preach the simple Gospel
, but such a mode of speaking does injustice to our opponents, The Ritualists preach the Gospel. We could produce Ritualistic sermons that are impregnated with the spirit of the Gospel. They insist upon the efficacy of the cleansing blood of Christ; and they have done great service in lifting that doctrine from the miserable condition into which it has been brought by the Broad Church party. But they preach something else; they preach the blood of Christ plus sacraments. It is there we have to meet them. Let us do it in a fair, honourable, and candid
temper, striving for the mastery in this, as in all other spiritual strife, lawfully, using God's word as our weapon, and trusting to God's Spirit for help, and we need not fear the issue.
THE GREAT PYRAMID.*
AMONG the mass of readers of average intelligence and ordinary education, we suspect that there must be many who, like ourselves, have never formed any very definite ideas respecting the arrangement and construction of the Egyptian Pyramids. The words, of course, were placed before our eyes soon after we left the nursery, and we were duly taught that the Pyramids were the tombs of Egyptian monarchs, &c.;" and we pictured to ourselves a something large and dark and awful; in which something there was a room, either upon or beneath the ground, and in which room there was a coffin, and in which coffin lay the bones of the dead king. How the men who built the "something" first got in, or, when in, ever managed to get out again, our young imaginations did not tell us, and common history books said but little as to the method pursued. As time went on with us, we heard of and read the accounts of travellers who," with brains, sir," more or less, visited these monuments, and from their descriptions we gathered some idea of the present appearance of the outside of them; and a few years ago we learnt that a different theory from the one of our early belief had been started respecting the purpose for which one at least of them had been built. We knew, also, that Professor Piazzi Smyth had taken some wonderful photographs, by the aid of the magnesium light, of the interior of the "Great Pyramid” on the plains of Jeezeh ; but what this interior was really like, and in what way the new theory connected the building with the science of astronomy, and with the subject of weights and measures, we did by no means clearly understand. To comfort us, our ignorance, as ignorance often does, assured us with a complacent simper, that the subject of weights and measures--though, of course, not too deep for us -was decidedly too dry, uninteresting, and unimportant to claim much of our attention ; although it did very well for a Parliamentary wrangle, when the House was nearly empty and members wanted their dinners; and for a bone of contention between French and English savans.
* " Our Inheritance in the Great Pyramid." By Professor Piazzi Smyth.
But in time the book, “Our Inheritance in the Great Pyramid,” came in our way, and—thanks to the clearness of the diagrams, the minuteness of the descriptions, and the enthusiasm of the writer, in itself so catching our ignorance and indifference felt rebuked and our vague, misty ideas began to take definite shape. Any one, after patient, careful reading of this book, can picture to himself this venerable building in all its youthful glory, when the now rough-looking masonry was all covered over with square and polished blocks of marble casing stones, and when its four perfect triangular sides met in their one topmost stone; and may feel as if he himself had been right into the pyramid, and had seen with his own eyes the wonders of workmanship and marvels of skill therein concealed and preserved.
It appears that “the Great Pyramid” standing in the plains of Jeezeh, though not the oldest by birth, is by far the largest, and is so unique and remarkable in the features of its internal arrangements, that it is considered the one important pyramid among all known existing pyramids.
“ descending passage” and the “subterranean chamber” of other pyramids : so far it resembles them ; and for centuries this was all it was supposed to possess. The Romans found out thus much, and left their marks upon the roof of the subterranean chamber. But it was reserved for barbarian Saracens to discover its other and more remarkable passages and rooms. In A.D. 820 the grandson of Haroun al Rashid, of “ Arabian Nights”” celebrity, heard of the stores of wealth which the poets and historians of the day declared were buried with the dust of the great man, whoever he might be, who had built the Great Pyramid ; heard also that there was an entrance“ somewhere on the north side,” but which entrance it was impossible to dis
The magnificent eastern despot decreed that “the impossible" should not exist for him, and ordered that the pyramid should be entered, and its treasures forthwith removed. Armies of his obedient slaves immediately set about the execution of his order, but as to the way in which they succeeded we must refer the reader to the Professor's graphic account. To quote it would be to mar it; yet how can we help doing so. And when they had gone down the descending passages and up the ascending ones, right into the very heart of the monster building, what did they find ? “A right noble apartment, 34 feet long, 17 broad, and 19 high, of polished granite throughout, in blocks squared and true, and all put together with such exquisite skill that the joints are barely discernible to the closest inspection.”