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offensively betrayed. Much indeed should I be mortified, were the effect of anything I have written here to be other than a desire in you to reciprocate the offer of a calm and kindly interchange of opinion on a subject of surpassing interest, but which has so rarely the fortune to be treated either with the temper suitable to its nature or the freedom befitting intelligent beings. I have already given expression to my sense of your peculiar adaptation to the office of cultivating and expounding religious truth. I can well understand the distinction, so happily pointed out by Archbishop Whately, between ' wishing to have truth on our side, and to be on the side of truth.' The latter, I am persuaded, is the condition of your mind; with the unusual advantage besides of having already overleaped the limits of your educational belief, without exposing yourself to the bias from secular interest which in so many instances must unconsciously influence the conclusions of others. Yet I will not pretend that there are not some important particulars, independently of those I have noticed in this letter, upon which my mind would gladly avail itself of further light, or has even taken up impressions not quite in unison with yours. It is the faculty of all vigorous minds to throw out materials by which other minds are sure to improve, whether they embrace or reject the conclusions into which those materials are moulded. My experience of this fact has not been weakened by my acquaintance with your valuable labours. But while I have hesitated as to some of the views you have either directly or incidentally defended, I willingly acknowledge that the information, the sentiment and the genius, with which your pages abound, have commanded for the far greater part, not alone my unreluctant assent, but my grateful and lasting admiration.
“ With such a mind I own I should not lightly prize the privilege of holding intercourse. Yet, however inferior in power, conscious as I am of the equal integrity and the not unlike vicissitudes of my own, I may perhaps be permitted to hope that the pleasure and advantage might not altogether be confined to me.
“I have for some time been residing in the family of my brother; but although I have at present no house of my own, yet I have so far a home, that I can with pleasure assure you of a respectful and hearty greeting, if I might venture to solicit. and should be so fortunate as to obtain, from you the favour of your personal presence among us for a few days. We are in the neighbourhood here of some interesting and charming scenes-not being very far from the banks of the Boyne--to which it would indeed rejoice me to have the opportunity of being your guide; and being only twenty miles from town, I almost allow myself to anticipate the kindness of your favourable reply.
“In the meantime and always, believe me to be," &c.
Mr. Blanco White's two acknowledgments of this letter will be found in his Life, Vol. II. pp. 48, 49. He excuses himself,
on account of the difficulty of getting a frank, and still more the state of his health," from giving a detailed answer to all the observations which might seem to require it. "I must content myself,” he adds, “ with giving this proof that your letter has deeply engaged my attention." As the letters have been published and are so easily accessible, it is not necessary to quote them here ; but the concluding observations of the second being more particularly referred to in Mr. Armstrong's answer which is to follow, it may be convenient to extract them :
“I believe that, if I were twenty years younger, I should be very much inclined to open a chapel of my own, and avoid the giving it any denomination besides that of Christian. ... Whatever powers are left me, I am, however, determined to employ in writing against the spirit of orthodoxy—that bane of the Christian Church, which began to corrupt it almost in the times of the apostles themselves. I cannot conclude without suggesting to you how desirable it would be that the ministers of the gospel called Unitarians should avoid dogmatism, or positive doctrines about the mere humanity of Christ, leaving the subject in the state in which it is unquestionably found in the Scriptures. I say unquestionably, though I imply a doubt which many Unitarians do not entertain, because it cannot be denied that to settle the question of the nature of Christ by setting texts against texts, is utterly impracticable in regard to the mass of Christians. That Providence intended to leave the subject in that undefinable state, is to me a fact proved by the balancing tendency, if I may use the expression, which I observe in the New Testament. Why should we not leave it so ? There is another point of the utmost importance to the progress of truly liberal Christian theology,--the acquiescence of Unitarians in the practice of worshiping the one God in Christ. This I conceive to be independent of the metaphysical question of the two natures. To me it is enough to hear Christ say that men should worship him as they worshiped the Father, and that he and his Father are one. I say that this is enough to justify the practice of addressing ourselves to God incarnate-by which I understand God united with Christ in regard to us, without defining the manner of the union. If to do this were unchristian, I cannot conceive that the Scriptures of the New Testament would leave such an opening to the practice.
“With earnest prayer for light from above to you and to me, and in the spirit of Christian fellowship, I remain, my dear Sir, very sincerely yours,
J. BLANCO WHITE."
“ To the Rev. J. Blanco White, Archbishop of Dublin's, Stephen's Green.
“Kilsharvan, Drogheda, Nov. 25—Dec. 1, 1834. “My dear Sir,-At length, for very shame, I proceed to inform you that your truly acceptable and valuable letter of the 31st August arrived here during my absence from home; and much indeed do I wish that a far less interval had elapsed before I could conveniently apply myself to its consideration with the care it so deservedly required. Believe me, however, that I now avail myself of the earliest leisure I have had for rendering it such justice as my humble capability will admit, and for requesting your friendly and candid reception of the reflections it has given rise to in my mind.
“I may briefly premise that to the term. Unitarian,' as applied to myself, I could at no time, since the change of my opinions, have the slightest objection-no more, indeed, than I could have to be called, at Constantinople, a Christian, even with the complimentary appendage of dog'annexed to it. And I must declare that so far as a reproach should be intended, my respect for the person so applying the term · Unitarian' would be not one whit more than for the poor unthinking utterer of the orthodox slang in fashion with the believers of the Prophet. The single dissatisfaction I designed to express in anything I may have conveyed to you was, that a work which aimed to be the common friend of all creeds, by preparing for each and all—more especially for such as were least in popular favour-an unprejudiced hearing, should be regarded, beyond this simple claim for a hearing, as Unitarian in its character, and consequently as a work which the orthodox, so to call them, were to view with suspicion, and the bigoted to pass by in alarm. But enough of this.
“I rejoice, however little I am surprised, that you have acquired so perfect an insight into the spirit of the ecclesiastical sayings and doings at present in so peculiar a state of activity as well in England as in Ireland. There is a passage in Hallam's History of England, reign of Anne, which I often refer to as marvellously descriptive of the majority of the order in our own day. The clergy,' he says, 'in very many instances were a curse rather than a blessing to those over whom they were set; and the people, while they trusted that from these polluted fountains they could draw the living waters of truth, became the dupes of factious lies and sophistries.' It may be thought perhaps to be somewhat unfair to aim with so sweeping an application a censure which was only designed for the particular vices of a particular period. But, I must own, the difficulty to me is to find the period when the clergy, as a body, have not been a curse rather than a blessing to those over whom they were set;' and assuredly the difficulty is but slightly diminished on taking a review of their character as exhibited in these our own days.
In short, I must frankly declare that in reference to that imposing majority, whether within or without the Establishment, who take to themselves the title of orthodox, I know of no other body of men in society to whom with so perfect propriety the epithets of hateful and mischievous can apply as to them. As an order of men professedly engaged in the prosecution of truth, the profligate disregard they evince to the method and temper in which alone truth can be successfully sought, and the vicious and unchristian spirit they manifest towards those who seek it in any other path but their own, expose them, in my humble judgment, to the charge of propagating and loving falsehood, in a degree incomparably beyond that of any other class of men in the history of the world.
“Feeling, then, as I do—believing that they have done more to set kingdom against kingdom, neighbour against neighbour, family against family, and man against man,'—and that they are at this moment opposing greater obstacles to the progress and expansion of the human mind than all other causes put together, I am only consistent when I say that, Quaker-like, I incline to believe we should be infinite gainers were there no such profession in existence. The fact is, that in a free and civilized and generally educated community, it may reasonably be argued that a clergy have no mission to teach the truth. The truth is already at every man's door, and he has only to stoop to lift it up; but if he wait for a gentleman in black, and with a university or episcopal licence, to tell him what truth is, the chances are ten to one he loses sight of truth altogether, and gets in its place some scheme handed down cut and dry from antiquity, and endorsed by the authority of the age, country or locality, in which the deluded inquirer may happen to be.
“When did a clergy ever forward the interests of truth? Never-and for this plain reason, that it is not truth, but creeds, they are concerned in sustaining. That is to say, although we disdain to abide by the chemistry, the astronomy, the jurisprudence, or the constitutional maxims of bygone days, yet in theology, as if it were of inferior importance to any of these, we set up a corporation of men notoriously pledged from the first dawn of their manhood, by their hopes of subsistence and advancement in the world, to see neither beyond nor beside—but to preach, to write and to scold in behalf of—the precise and particular number of dogmas which emanated from the half-emancipated intellects of certain old gentlemen in the 16th century! And here the eloquent words of the honoured Channing so forcibly suggest themselves, that I cannot forbear to advert to them. "I see, indeed, superior minds and great minds among the adherents of the prevalent system ; but they seem to me to move in chains, and to fulfil poorly their high function of adding to the wealth of the human intellect. In theological discussion, they
remind me more of Samson grinding in the narrow mill of the Philistines, than of that undaunted champion achieving victories for God's people and enlarging the bounds of their inheritance.
“But after all, as I can very well imagine a clergy without an array of transmitted opinions imposed upon their acceptance, and through them recommended to the uninquiring acceptance of others, I could be well pleased to see such an order of men dispersed through society, who, by their leisure, their eloquence, their amiable bearing and their pure affections, should be able to draw men's minds from earth to heaven, and, professing less to be teachers of truth than preachers and examples of practical goodness, should ever be ready to aid in the inquiries of their brethren, casting away all pretension to dominion over their faith, and, in the work of interpreting God's revelations, contented to be helpers of their joy and fellow-seekers after knowledge, rather than a weight upon their souls and a hindrance to their path.
“Should it gratify me the less to behold such a system, that it would afford a promise of the extension of opinions, in whose train alone I can see the true happiness of society, the solid improvement of man, and a stability and wide-spreading growth for Christianity, for which the missions of orthodoxy have hitherto but dubiously provided either abroad or at home? I need not say to you, that wherever the incredible, the mysterious and the startling is most in vogue, there the reaction in favour of unbelief is of proportionate energy. The country of your birth is testimony of this, and I can confidently assure you that the country of your adoption abounds in examples of the analogous fact. I say the analogous fact, because I am not alluding to any effects upon the thinking mind from the existence of Popery-strictly such—in these countries. With that Popery, indeed, the intelligent and educated classes of Britain have no sympathy; but there is another Popery—a blind, unexamining, anti-rational adhesion to creeds, which are scarcely, if at all, less shocking than Popery itself to understandings of the slightest capacity or taste for steady, persevering and independent thought. ad just in proportion to the prevalence and popularity of these creeds in reference to one class of minds, is the progress of deep, subtle, sneering, total unbelief-less often avowed than betrayed -in others. This I well know, for I have personal experience of it; and there is indeed no fact of which I am more entirely persuaded, than that which has been expressed in the following words by Mr. Buckminster, a young American divine, who, too soon for the world, but not too soon for the happy immortality into which he was to pass, was cut off in the midst of a power and promise of which the records of genius and piety have but few examples. “Nothing,' says that interesting writer, so much tends to multiply hypocrites and infidels as the mysterious suppression or discouragement of all attempts to make religion intelligible.