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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 any 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 natious, 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
will, and having discovered it, to act in obedience to it, in the face of the whole universe, if it be that it stands between us and that obedience ;-that also must be kept in view." Tried by this Ideal within him, the author sees nothing around him but emptiness and barrenness, with the exception of some insignificant material things, and "leaving it for others to trumpet the praises of the times," he "confines himself to an enunciation of its evil features."
Accordingly, in "the social and domestic tendencies of the Age" he sees little but self-conceit and exaggeration, material standards of respectability, rival upholstery, emulative millinery, and the heart eaten out of love and home by vain strivings after appearances and fashionable measures of living and expenditure. There is much truth in all this, but it is so far from being the whole truth, that it stands considerable chance of being rejected as altogether false. The nineteenth century will hardly recognize its own likeness in this perplexing picture. "It does nothing but run up and down the land, bedecked with its phylacteries, like a hen that has laid her virgin egg, and knows not what to make of it, strutting noisily about, and cackling, with endless repetition, Look at me! Admire me! I have laid my egg-I am the Nineteenth Century !'""
In the "Morality" of the age he sees only an outward polish and an inward looseness; and Cider Cellars, Casinoes, Walhallas, and the licentiousness of the streets, so distress his moral perceptions that he cannot get their corruption out of his eyes. We earnestly trust that what is unquestionably true and needed in his protests will not be injured by its one-sidedness-but we must say that what exactly is meant by Casinoes, and Walhallas, will be a mystery to multitudes.
In "the Education and Position of Woman," he sees only "frivolity and vanity," "Crochet and Berlin wool work," "antimacassar and doylies," and a system that aims to create "luxurious, gay-coloured butterflies," "accomplished yet ignorant; fashionable, yet vulgar to the core; eye-dazzling, but heart-sickening; a race who are entitled to the name of fine girl,' or elegant creature,' but can never, without mockery, bear the hallowed name of woman."
In "Literature" he sees only "flippancy and comicality," mechanisms and materialisms, and mere beauties of style.
In "Religion" he finds that "the God of Englishmen is a union of Mammon and Public Opinion; their Heaven Success in life; their Hell Not getting on.""
We give the author credit for excellent purpose, and in his analysis of our moral state there is much truth of perception and force of rebuke, but some more genial perception of the good that belongs to the Age would have saved his book from the fate that we fear awaits all Jeremiads.
An author, too, that assumes so high a tone challenges the utmost severity of moral criticism. We must say, then, that we do not think that such Morality as this is likely to mend the Age:
"The character of King David has ever been a stumbling block to men; they have not been able to understand how he could be an adulterer, a murderer, a debauchée, and yet the man after God's own heart.-David had one of the strongest and most vigorous souls ever sent upon the earth. The consequence was, that when the scum and residue of his fleshly excesses fastened upon his soul it had strength to rise against them, enter into conflict with them, and cast them away. The bodily sin had not its corresponding influence upon his powerful soul, and therefore to the God of soul was no sin; and thus the high active-souled adulterer could be the man after God's own heart !"
We do not know why the author should close this passage with a note of admiration, unless it was to anticipate and neutralize any such mark which his critics might be tempted to affix. As far as we can understand the doctrine of the passage, it is, that, the more spiritual a man is by God's gift and inspiration, the more safely, and the more innocently, he may set at nought moral Principle, and the Law of holiness. We have not so learned Christ. Holy impulses and a strong soul are not charters of licentiousness, but measures whereby to number the stripes to be inflicted on low indulgence.
And an author who demands in a book "simply recorded thought," ought not to have made the demand in a passage, which shows that it might not be impossible to satisfy him with less :