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the blasphemous writings of Thomas Payne. Immense are the changes for the better which, during the last half century, have not merely passed over the surface of society, but deeply penetrated its substance; and many are the causes to which they may be attributed. To several of these I have adverted in the course of my four volumes. As happens in the animal economy, so it may be said that in the political, the period of recovery from severe disease is characterized by an enlarged appetite for food. England's convalescence, accordingly, has been characterized by an impatient thirst of knowledge, for which there is no parallel in past ages. Religion and science, the two great levers of the intellectual world, ought not to be at variance; neither will they be, provided it is borne in mind that their provinces are distinct. The phenomena and laws of the natural world fall within the province of the latter; but man and his immortal aspirations have no fulcrum apart from the Bible. Under this conviction I have spoken my mind freely on points of the deepest import; and if it should happen that I may be thought by some, for whose learning and piety I have the greatest respect, to have gone ultra crepidam, I must recur, mutatis mutandis, to my old friend Coleridge's axiom, “debemus amicis consentire, sed usque ad Superos.” I cannot accept the dogmas of any church, or of any churchman, without the consentient testimony of a conscience enlightened by the Word of God.
The Bible contains the whole canon of the Scrip
tures; and however great our obligations may be to the early Fathers of the Church, for the confirmation their writings afford to the integrity of that canon, and to its completeness,--for unless this be admitted we make the beloved disciple of our Lord a liar,—yet to the Bible will the conscientious Christian naturally look for the reasons of the faith which is within him. Churches may be differently constituted; but there is but one faith, and the closer any church keeps to the simplicity of that faith the better.
In our own National Church this is getting to be more fully understood, and whatever is not essential to pure religion is fast losing its hold on the minds of intelligent Protestants. Spiritual religion, the religion of the heart and of the intellect, is superseding formalism; and, to maintain her supremacy, the Bible must be England's banner, and her Prayerbook, in close conformity therewith, must bear the symphony of that divine concert which, beginning on earth, will have its consummation in heaven. So entirely are the collects, and other prayers of our church, in accordance with this view, that there is scarcely one which is not, more or less, an epitome of Christian doctrine; and the main purport of my strictures is to relieve her ministers and members from the unnecessary weight of defensive armour with which she is encumbered. The inscrutable mysteries of Jehovah do not admit of being unfolded ; and, now that we have emerged from mediæval darkness into the clear atmosphere of the Bible, what need is
there to continue the fight with the spectral heresies of that gloomy era ? My intercourse in life has been with churchmen and dissenters, but far more intimate with the former; and I can now boast of the acquaintance and friendship of two of the brightest ornaments of church and dissent of the present day. At the time of my residence at Cambridge, Mr. Simeon was at the head of a party professing great strictness of religious principles; and many of his followers, such as Kempthorne and Martyn, were alike distinguished in religion and science. So that Cambridge, in that day of blasphemy throughout Europe, was not only not infidel, but had staunch watchmen to call the hour of the night. At Göttingen, on the contrary, which was my next university, religion gave no sign of life. Sunday was a mere holiday—no one thought of going to church, and even in our own little English circle, the sacred; lamp would have well nigh gone out, if Coleridge had not fed it with metaphysics, at the furthest flight of which he never lost sight of the Bible. No one, I believe, has seen Coleridge to more advantage than I have done; and it is certain that the Englishmen who gathered around him in Germany have, in after life, been most ready to allow how greatly, they profited from the words of wisdom which in those, perhaps his most halcyon days, accompanied the current of his thoughts.
A member, from my birth, of the Church of England, my ardent desire is to see her in all respects
a pattern of excellence to the other churches of Christendom; and I have striven to discover what can be the main cause of that mass of dissent which so grievously impedes her march in the van of the church militant. Her Articles, her Canons, her Homilies, her Creeds, and, more than all, her learned and pious divines, are a Legion. What is it, then, that lets? The Church of England, despite the wranglings of some, and the unaccountable perversions to Rome of others, is still in heart Protestant. What is it that lets, if it be not her too dogmatic teaching, in the face of palpable fallibility, and the haughty bearing of high churchmen towards dissenters generally, and towards other societies than those she prides herself upon as her own? Until these hindrances shall have been removed, there can be no concurrent action, no harmony between the Church of England and conscientious dissenters. But to what tribunal must the appeal for mutual concessions and redress of grievances be made? It seems fruitless to appeal to “ Convocation," where the embers of internecine warfare are still glowing. A friend of mine, whose faith was seriously damaged by such unhappy wranglings, used to say that, in the other learned professions it was smooth work in comparison with divinity, and that he would prefer a committee of the bench of Judges to a committee of Bishops, for the settlement of religious disputes. But we know that our blessed Lord foresaw fearful lets and hindrances, and that He nevertheless cheered
His faithful followers with the prospect of a millenial period of peace on earth, and of an eternity of bliss in heaven. And, as I can well remember the time when the turnpike roads of England, which are now comparatively so smooth, were rough and almost impracticable; so I would fain hope that the day is at hand when the way of the Lord will be made smooth by the removal of impediments to the progress of the Christian pilgrim; impediments which impair the harmony of our social intercourse in life, and which will not even allow our lifeless bodies to rest together in the same grave-yards, till the last trump of the awakening archangel shall summon all alike to appear at the impartial tribunal of a just and merciful God.