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Justinian, freedom became the rule, and slavery the exception, among the poorer subjects of the empire.* So clear, indeed, is the tendency of Christianity on this matter, that if our author had made his attack from the opposite side, and contended that its doctrines proved too much against servitude, and assumed with too little qualification the capacity of each man for self-rule, we should have felt more hesitation in expressing our dissent. We certainly feel that the religious impulse under which, in Christian times, every assault upon slavery has been conducted, requires for its wise and efficient operation a larger admixture of worldly moderation and economical forethought, than zeal and generosity are willing to allow.
But few words will be needful in reference to our author's theory of the Reformation. In his view, this great event is due, not to the Bible, but to Free Learning, especially to the moral works of Cicero and Boethius, which “effected what (strange to think) the New Testament could not do” (p. 158). He inclines to think that the change would have been better brought about, if Luther had never lived ; and while crediting the Pagan writers with the recovery of Europe, convicts the Scriptures of inefficiency, for not having prevented its previous lapse into barbarism and superstition.
The Reformation arose, not from the Bible, but from Free Learning! This appears to us like saying that the harvest comes, not from the seed-corn, but from good farming; or that the ship makes its voyage, not by the wind, but by navigation. Would our author have had the Bible produce the Reformation without Free Learning,that is, without being applied to the European mind at all? If not, what is the meaning of this false antithesis, between the state of the human faculties and the object on which they are employed ? and of the strange exaction that the Scriptures, once put on parchment, should be able, whether men could procure and read them or not,to overrule all the causes of internal corruption and external ruin, beneath which the Roman civilization succumbed ? A“self-sustaining power” like this, a power to remain independent of perturbation from foreign influences, and to evolve like phenomena from the most unlike conditions of the human mind, is intrinsically inconceivable. Be a religion ever so divine,—from the moment that it is consigned to human media and delivered to the keeping of mankind, it inevitably shares the fate of all the intellectual and spiritual possessions of our race, and rises and sinks with the tides of history. If our author's favourites,-the Latin moralists,-accomplished at the revival of learning what the Scriptures could not do, they availed as little as the_Scriptures to prevent its previous decline; and when Europe “sank into the gulf of Popery," she had Cicero and Boethius, no less than “the Bible in her hands.” But “without free intellect," as Mr. Newman truly observes of the ancient Attic literature in the hands of the Greeks of Constantinople, “ the works of their fathers did their souls no good :" and is not the plea equally valid that, without free intellect, the works of evangelists and apostles could do the souls of disciples no good? No Protestant ever disputed the need of Free Learning as an essential condition of the Reformation: and the only question is, whether the modern changes in the religion of Christendom arose from the free study of the Scriptures, or from the free study of the Pagan writers ? It is difficult to discuss such a question with gravity. If our author really thinks that the Huguenots derived their inspiration from Seneca and the Puritans from Cicero; if he imagines Marcus Antoninus in the pocket of the Brownists, and Epictetus beneath the pillow of John Knox, he entertains a conception of modern history more peculiar than that of the Anglican theologians themselves. We had always imagined, that from the time of Petrarch, the ancient literature was nowhere more assiduously studied than in Italy; which, nevertheless, witnessed no “improvement of spiritual doctrine," and was not assuming, under the patronage of the Medicis and the Papacy of Leo, a course of development very promising for religious
* See Plin. Traj. Imp. Lib. x. ep. 97. Justinian's Novella, cxxiii. 4. v. 2. Clem. Alex. const. apost. iv. Cod. Theodos. ii. tit. 25. Gibbon, Ch. 44. and Blair's Inq. into the State of Slavery amongst the Romans, passim ; especially pp. 127, 168-174; and 247, where it is shown that “St. Paul would, under any circumstances, have had no choice, but to send Onesimus to his master. The detention of a fugitive slave was considered the same offence as a theft, and would, no doubt, infer liability to prosecution for damages, under that head, or under the rules with regard to corrupting slaves,-- or the Aquilian law, respecting reparation of injury done."
truth and moral earnestness. The assertion that the Reformation would have been more beneficent, had the Reformers never lived, belongs to a kind of speculation which appears to us fruitful in delusion. That concurrently with the rise of those great leaders there existed a general ferment of mind in Europe favourable to their influence, is undeniable: that, if they had not appeared, this condition would have manifested itself in some direction, drawing into it many of the energies which they bespoke, we do not doubt: but that this substituted phenomenon would have been “the Reformation," analogous in its characteristics and equivalent in its merits, is a proposition beyond the reach of human evidence; belonging to the computation of contingents, the scientia media of Molina's God. It is as little possible to conceive of the Reformation without Luther, as to imagine an Evangelicism without Paul, or even a Christianity without Christ.
A few topics in this volume we must leave untouched; an omission which will be more readily excused, we fear, than the handling of so many. In parting from it, we re-state our conviction that Mr. Newman exaggerates the resources of the purely subjective side of Religion, and undervalues its objective conditions. A spirit like his own may doubtless draw, from the mere depth of its inner experience, a faith and trust adequate to the noble governance of life. But just as the Intellect of mere metaphysicians, spinning assiduously from its own centre without fixed points of attachment for its threads, produces as many tissues of thought as there are original thinkers; so the Soul of mere spiritualists, in attempting to evolve everything from within without
datum of historical reverence, must create as many religions as there are worshippers. As we have faith in a Common Reason, so have we in a Common Conscience, of mankind; the eye, in the one case of natural, in the other, of divine truth : but liable, in both instances, to the same law,—that objects not ideal but real be given for perception and appreciation; objects, not different for each observer, but large and conspicuous enough to fix simultaneously the universal vision. The grand objects of the physical universe, discernible from every latitude, look in at the understanding of all nations, and secure the unity of Science. And the glorious persons of human history, imperishable from the traditions of every civilized people, keeping their sublime glance upon the Conscience of ages, create the unity of Faith. And if it hath pleased God the Creator, to fit up one system with one Sun, to make the daylight of several worlds ; so may it fitly have pleased God the Revealer, to kindle amid the ecliptic of history One Divine Soul, to glorify whatever lies within the great year of his moral Providence, and represent the Father of Lights. The exhibition of Christ as his Moral Image has maintained in the souls of men a common spiritual type to correct the aberrations of their individuality, to unite the humblest and the highest, to merge all minds into one family,—and that, the family of God.
ART. V.--SOCIAL ASPECTS.
Social Aspects. By John Stores Smith. London, 1850.
This is an admonitory or exhortatory work, full of good intention but too vague and declamatory to be useful. The author's mind, too, has been strongly impressed by the leading thoughts and the prevailing mannerism of some of our most popular writers, and so some confusion is occasioned to the reader, as of one listening to many echoes. He takes a gloomy view of our social prospects, thinks that there is no worth or honesty in our civilization, that it is full of inward rottenness and hastening to ruin, and being of opinion that the old civilizations perished not from political but from moral causes (an opinion which without some definite explanation of the degeneracy of character conveys no instruction), he applies himself to the various departments and fountain heads of moral influence, and exhorts them, with unsparing contempt for their present “inanity,” to be true, honest, earnest, and high souled.
The method is somewhat needlessly minute. Thus, the Introduction, after three short sections on the decay of Nations, the function of civilization, and the standard or ideal man by which to judge our actual, occupying in all only thirty-two short pages, is followed by a section of “ Pause and Survey," retracing the ground already travelled.
We have complained of this work as vague. Let us give an example. The author pourtrays an ideal man, as a measure by which to “estimate the English people of to-day.” He might have satisfied himself with the detailed portraiture of Christianity, for it is difficult to perceive what “ fixed standard” is obtained from such outlines as these, -that the ideal man must possess Spirituality, Truth of nature, Courage and Earnestness, and have his life “one proud and unwavering effort to act in conformity. with Conscience.” We add his own summary of the ideal of a manly life. “ It may be summed up briefly as the intense desire, resolve, and endeavour to discover God's