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Sect. i. pp. 131-134.- Predominant Idea of Puritanism.
Sect. ii. pp. 134-140.—Spirit and Affinities of Lollardism.
CONCLUSION. pp. 469-482.
NOTES. Pp. 483-563.
RELIGIOUS LIFE OF ENGLAND.
RELATION OF THE RELIGIOUS HISTORY OF ENGLAND
TO THE GENERAL HISTORY OF THE CHURCH.
CONFLICT under some form or other seems an indispensable condition of social progress. The repose and uniformity so ardently desired by some theorists, are the unequivocal signs, wherever they occur, of a stationary or a declining civilisation. Exemption from opposition and questioning relaxes the motives to exertion and brings a torpor over all the faculties. This is especially true of the intellectual and spiritual life of man. Without antagonism-mental health, practical wisdom, and the constant development of fresh truth, are im
possible. We have a proof of this, if we compare the condition and influence of communities, like England, Holland, North America, and the Protestant States of Germany—where mental freedom has been largely enjoyed—with such countries as Austria and Spain, where the priest and the sovereign have combined to crush in its germ every rising of independent thought. Civil and religious freedom are essential to each other's existence; where one is stifled, the other languishes; and apart from their blended influence, neither commerce nor arts nor genuine science nor a noble literature nor high national character can long endure. Whenever we are inclined to deplore the strife and the turbulence which mark every period of our history, and the divided state in which, after the contests of centuries, they have left our people at the present day—we should remember, that these things are the indications of an energy and a self-reliance, without which England could never have been what she is, nor occupied the same high place among the nations of the earth.
A right appreciation of the antagonistic tendencies, in whose balanced working a nation's vitality resides—supplies a key to the true reading of its internal history. And if our literature—the joint produce of Norman and Saxon influences—is rich, varied and original beyond any other in Europe if our political experience abounds with ampler instruction, finer examples, and more fortunate results, than that of any society which has grown out of the feudal constitution of the Middle Agesour religious life, which stands in a still closer relation to our national character, and, welling up from the deep fountains of the soul, has watered the roots both of our liberties and our literature -possesses features peculiarly its own, exhibits struggles not exactly paralleled in any of the countries where the great battles of religious freedom have been fought, and has terminated in a state of things, at once different from the limited, but, so far as it extends, impartial, toleration of many continental states, and the complete religious freedom and equality of North America.
The principles which distinguish Christianity from all previous religions, are—spirituality and mental freedom. In its original records no provision exists for the appointment of a priesthood, for the determination of a metaphysical creed, or even for the regulation of a form of social worship. The refinement and elevation of the human soul, through the power of faith and love borne into it by the doctrine and example of Christ-constitutes the specific work of the Gospel. Everything beyond this, is extraneous, conventional, disciplinary -to be settled by considerations of time and place and practical expediency. In a few words, Paul has described its true character—" Where the