« AnkstesnisTęsti »
only when subsidiary to an original personal faith subjectively evolved from the Conscience and Affections. Hence the qualified and uneasy assent which alone we can give to the Analogy of Butler, the Theology of Paley, and the Short Conclusions from the Light of Nature. The truths of religion appear to us to possess a higher certainty than that trembling balance of probabilities which the method of these treatises allows: and accordingly most readers, we believe, rise from such works with a feeling of disappointment that their faith cannot take higher ground, and has to plead for its existence with so ingenious a caution. Where however the attack is so various as in the present age, defence of every kind may find a welcome and a use: and we shall be glad to meet again,—and for a longer intercourse, the sensible and benevolent author of the volume which has called forth these remarks.
ART. VII.-POPULAR CHRISTIANITY.
Popular Christianity. By F. J. Foxton. Letter from the Author to the Editors.
To the Editors of the "Prospective Review."
My reviewer, in the last Number of the "Prospective Review," has mistaken both my meaning and my position, in supposing either that I recommend a dishonest adherence to the establishment, to those who are convinced of its vital corruption, or that I am myself in a position of such degrading compliance. I resigned my preferment in the Church more than two years ago, nor should I have considered it decent to have assailed the Church whilst I was wearing her livery.
From those who entertain the opinions expressed in my book, common honesty, of course, requires immediate secession, but there are many of the clergy of the establishment whose heterodoxy is far less pronounced than mine, and who seem to believe that "new wine" may yet "be put into old bottles." From such I have required that they should at least protest against what they believe to be false or obsolete in the doctrine and discipline of the Church, even whilst they continue within her pale. In perfect strictness there is no clergyman in the Church who does not in some way or other violate his oath of ecclesiastical obedience, either in regard to doctrine or discipline, and a further extension of this notorious laxity would involve no fresh violation of principle or consistency. Both the doctrinal system and the discipline of the Church are in such a chaotic condition that it has become extremely difficult to decide as to what is real and what only nominal, in the province of ecclesiastical authority.
Without doubt, there are at the present moment within the Church those conflicting elements of opinion that will insure its ultimate dissolution, and an honest expression of them is assuredly far more desirable that their suppression. I have only to add, that desiring as I do the dissolution of the Established Church, I would still prefer that it should perish by exhaustion and natural decay, rather than by a sudden and violent death.
I trust you will indulge me so far as to find a place for my (or the substance of it) in the forthcoming Number of the "Prospec
tive Review." Your treatment of the literary character of my very imperfect book was only too indulgent-my present purpose is, solely, the vindication of its moral bearings.
Cheltenham, Dec. 8, 1849.
I am, gentlemen,
Your obedient Servant,
FRED. J. FOXTON.
We are happy to receive from Mr. Foxton this statement of his views on the morality of Opinion; though we can look with no satisfaction, and no hope, on a further extension of a notorious laxity," which "would involve no fresh violation of principle or consistency." We think
this application of the rule, he that offends in one point is guilty of all,' very much like the letting out of water. We desire, however, to permit Mr. Foxton to speak for himself, and have no wish to re-cite the passages from his book which seemed to us to require grave expostulation. The ground of that expostulation was not the supposition of his own continued adhesion to the Church of England, but the advice he offers to heretical clergymen, which any one, who pleases, may see on page 497 of our last Number.
ART. I.-EMANUEL SWEDENBORG.
1. Emanuel Swedenborg: A Biography. By James John Garth Wilkinson. Newbery: London. 1849. 2. Publications of the Society for Printing and Publishing the Writings of Emanuel Swedenborg. London. 1840, 1841, 1843, 1847.
3. Sammlung von Urkunden betreffend das Leben und den Charakter Emanuel Swedenborg's. Von Dr. J. F. I. Tafel. Tübingen. 1839-44.
Ir is the favourite cant of a certain school, taken up at a venture from some dashing aphorism of Carlyle or Jean Paul, to abjure the whole eighteenth century en masse as a period of heartless criticism and mental disorganisation, devoid of all love and earnestness and creative power. One lesson at least might have been learned from that calumniated age-not to hazard sweeping assertions without the qualifications which an accurate knowledge of facts would have made imperative on the lover of truth. Reposing from the long exhaustion of the religious wars of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, and weary of controversies that had yielded no fruit, it is certainly true, that the general mind of Europe, from the commencement of the last century, was remarkable for its distrust of vague generalisations based on intuitive assumption; and CHRISTIAN TEACHER.-No. 48.
with the great results and exquisite instruments of Newton, Huygens, Leibnitz and Locke, placed in its hands, concentrated its energies on the search after new facts, and on the devisal of fresh applications for those already known. But it is preposterous to describe the spirit of the eighteenth century as simply analytic and negative. Facts were rapidly developed into laws. In the wide range of human annals, where shall we point to a period so fertile of prolific principles? In its womb were engendered the seeds of thought and the germs of power, which are only now bearing their fruit in the middle of the nineteenth century, and whether for good or for evil are unquestionably revolutionising the entire condition of society. To that age belong the names of Adam Smith, Watt, Franklin, Gibbon, Voltaire, Beccaria, Howard, Burke, Lavoisier, Priestley, and, by his education and earliest impressions, Bentham. What incalculable influences have gone forth from the thoughts of these men! Our own time, resonant with the pretensions of querulous prophets and oracular declaimers, must furnish more names to parallel with them, ere it can be suffered to look down with disdain on that illustrious past.
The Religion of the period in all the great communions of Christendom, inheriting certain dogmas which represented the belief of a former age, and unable to harmonise them with the intellectual activity in which it was involved, shrank from the unequal contest, and with apathetic easiness, it must be confessed, settled down on that broad neutral ground of natural light and practical ethics, where learning and criticism might fully exercise their functions with impunity indeed, but with no large spiritual fruit. But even this did not take place without frequent and effectual protest. It is the reverse of fact to affirm, that the eighteenth century was without examples of a most earnest development of the Religious Life. Its phænomena in this respect are among the most striking and varied in the history of the Church. The nineteenth century has produced nothing as yet to equal them either for depth or for continuance of impression. The Protestantism of the established and recognised Churches of Europe was an imperfect birth, arrested at a particular point of its natural growth by the mere accident of political events-the