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and State the benefit, of their learned endeavours." With similar impartial interest we bring under the notice of our readers these two sermons, preached before their respective Universities by two of tbe most eminent prelates of our time. The circumstances under which they were delivered would doubtless be of peculiar interest to the preachers revisiting the scenes of their own early triumphs, and beholding around them the flower of our English youth filled with the same honourable aspirations which actuated them in the earlier period of their career. We may reasonably suppose that, ever and above the solemn responsibilities devolving upon them as Fathers of the Church, a large amount of sympathy with the peculiar trials and temptations of their hearers would influence them. But, apart from all such considerations, the sermons themselves well deserve notice in our pages, as important and timely utterances, from men of high intellectual vigour and extensive learning, upon topics of the utmost moment—vexed questions of the day.
The Archbishop, after asserting the general application of his text, 2 Cor. iii. 17, proceeds to show that the liberty into which the Spirit of God introduces true Christians is threefold—liberty from ceremonial bondage, liberty from the bondage of endless questionings, liberty from allowed sin. We extract an eloquent passage from the second of these divisions :—
"There is no reasonable liberty for the soul, and mind, and character of him whose feet are still stumbling, while he gropes darkly after the first elements of religious truth, when by the help God gives him he ought to be rising to the full energy of a manly Christian life, and walking through Christ in the light of God's presence. The ship's crew are not free agents who, driven hither and thither without compass in a trackless ocean, at the mercy of every varying wind, cannot make the haven where they would be. And what is his liberty of thought who has never settled with himself the first principles which lie at the very root of all thought on moral and religious questions? What can he think in that highest range of all the subjects which can engage the soul's contemplation, who has never settled with himself whether he really have a soul, or whether what he calls his soul be but the result of the organism of his body? How can he rise to higher regions of thought, in which he is invited to contemplate the spiritual and the infinite, who is still hesitating as to whether there be any God other than the living principle which pervades and animates material and finite nature P What thoughts can he have higher than man, who is still doubting whether there be any God Almighty other than the spirit of humanity; who cannot feel sure that anything deserves his worship except the world's imperfect heroes, or, at best, some one of those gentler spirits of the softer sex, who in the midst of weakness and much failure are powerful to diffuse the softening influence of what, after all, is but a very imperfectly humanizing civilization? What moral code worth listening to can be the subject of his meditations who is in uncertainty as to whether there be such a thing as sin apart from misfortune or malformation P O man, what are thy thoughts worth as to the issues on which hang the destiny of nations, and of separate human souls, who art still questioning whether thou art really at all • better than the beasts that perish, and feelest not any stirrings of a divine element within thee? who hast not the power to look forward
with any confidence that thou wilt last beyond the few uncertain troubled years of thy swiftly-ending earthly being P And what canst thou know of the true, the just, the pure, and the holy, who hast never recognised any echoes of a voice divine; who art unconvinced that man has ever been addressed by a word of God, or even confusest thyself with wearying speculations as to what this word is, and where it is to be found, when it is near thee, in thine hands, before thine eyes, sounding in thine ears, appealing to thy conscience, if thou wert not so depressed and dulled by thy grovelling speculations P Dost thou deny that there can be such a thing as communion with God either through His word or prayer? Is it not miserable that thou hast cast away the help to lofty speculation which Christ has secured for thee through direct access to Him who is infinite P Ah, friends, they lose great helps to highest thought who are always in their thoughts turning back and stooping to the beggarly elements of a disputation on first principles.
"Nay, I believe we may say this also, that a great deal of what would palm itself ofT in these days as earnest thinking on subtle questions is no thought at all, but the mere parrot-like repetition of the formulae of a heathen Pyrrhonism, from which all the great Greek and Roman thinkers had entirely emancipated their souls. And is it not a miserable fete for a man living in days of Christian civilization to straiten his free energies by encasing himself in the cast-off clothes of the heathen P Does not experience teach us that what is called free thinking is often the very opposite of thought P He is thinking freely who is enabled, by God's Spirit guiding him, to rise in the range of his thoughts to the contemplation of the ideal of all truth and goodness. But he is in bondage and unable to think who never gets boyond the repetition of some hackneyed infidel objections, culled at second hand, which tell him in fact that he is himself little better than a human brute, and that there is nothing higher than himself to rise to. Ah, friends, they do lose a great help who think not of the liberty to rise to the highest regions of the moral and the spiritual, wherewith, in the ministration of the Holy Ghost, Christ has endowed His people; and call not to mind the words of the Lord Jesus, how He said, 'If ye continue in My word, ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.'"
The Bishop of St. David's, taking for his text John xvi. 13, and connecting it with the Collect of the day, undertakes to explain with what limitations the breadth of the promise of "guiding into all truth" is to be accepted. He asserts it to be, not "an illumination of the speculative intellect, but a quickening and guiding of the moral sense for practical purposes." We have not space to follow his argument; but quote a passage upon the question of Infallibility, which occurs in connection with what he terms the moral suicide of the Church of Laodicea, which is singularly able and well-timed:—
"But it does not appear that, having wandered far away from the truth, and having led multitudes astray, she had said, ' I am infallible.' It was reserved for the Angel of another Church to advance that pretension, as the ground of an absolute dominion over the reason and conscience of mankind.
"A charge was brought against Manes and Montanus, and other old hereBiarchs, that they pretended the Paraclete had become incarnate in their persons. Impartial inquiry, however, has shown that their language was misunderstood or misrepresented, and that the privilege of which they boasted, however groundlessly and presumptuously, was not of such a kind as to dishonour the Majesty of the Holy Ghost. Can so much be said of pretensions which not only imprison Him in a human mind, but inseparably annex the exercise of His very highest function, as the Spirit of Truth, to an official succession of men? Manes and Montanus might have given some colour to their claims, by the eminent sanctity—at least austerity—of their lives. That would not have established the fact, but it would have made it possible to conceive that the Holy Spirit might vouchsafe to dwell in vessels so fitted for His reception. But it is hard to say whether it derogates more from His dignity, to suppose that He freely chooses to pour the most precious of His Charismata through the most polluted channels, or that He is constrained to do so by some magical spell; that He always stands ready to await the result of the moBt corrupt worldly intrigues, and to set His seal to their success: giving the clearest light of His truth to those whom He leaves in the grossest moral darkness: enabling them to decide the subtlest questions of metaphysical theology with unerring tact, while they stumble against what St. Paul calls ' sound doctrine,' in the first rudiments of godly life. It would be unjust to reproach the Church of Rome with the misfortune of having been not unfrequently governed by some of the worst of men. But when we recollect the character which she claims for them all, we cannot lament that a fiction which so degrades and blasphemes the Holy Ghost, and divorces orthodoxy from morality at the very fountain-head of both, should so often have been put to a crucial test. Her apologists are anxious, as in a question of life or death, to vindicate Liberius from the charge of Arianism, and Honorius from the suspicion of having favoured Monothelite error. They seem unconcerned when Borgia is placed upon the altar and condemns Savonarola to the stake.
"These reflections are, unhappily, not foreign to questions which are now agitating our own Church. But there is one practical inference which seems indisputable. That claim to personal infallibility, which has been advanced of late with growing boldness, and may perhaps be affirmed by a new definition of the Council which is to supplement the decrees of Trent, is either rightful or wrongful. If it is valid, it is the duty of our Church, and of every other now separate from Rome, to humble themselves before her in the dust, and to seek to be admitted as reconciled penitents within her pale. But as long as we repudiate this claim, it seems hardly consistent with either reason or charity to encourage the delusion of those who maintain it by importunate sighings and strivings after a union, which to them can only mean unconditional submission. And when we mourn over the old division between the East and the West, arc we sure that we have not rather reason to be deeply thankful for a Providential mercy, which preserved the Universal Church from a more oppressive spiritual despotism than any branch of it has yet suffered." (pp. 18—20.)
We must, however, be permitted to regret that Bishop Thirlwall should have, we trust inadvertently, given currency to the notion that, "under the influence of a remorseless theology, the almost saintly Cowper was haunted by the delusion that he was the victim of a horrible decree, predestinated to glorify God by his eternal reprobation." The subject of Cowper's malady has been so often discussed in our pages, that we do not care to re-open it. It was well remarked in our volume so far back as 1805, that if religion was the cause of it, " the methodistical taint must have been communicated to him before he was born, for his malady was evidently interwoven in
his constitution, and was coeval with his existence." In his funeral sermon, preached by Mr. Greatheed, we are informed that the text, "God hath set forth Jeans Christ to be a propitiation through faith in His blood, to declare His righteousness for the remission of sins that are past through the forbearance of God," arrested Cowper's despair; and that, while meditating upon it, he obtained a clear view of the Gospel, which was attended with unspeakable joy,—a happy and peaceful interval which lasted for nine years. This statement aroused the ire of the British Critic and of the Quarterly Reviewers in 1824; but we feel quite assured that in this offence Bishop Thirlwall would not sympathize; nor, indeed, could so precious and comforting a promise of the Gospel be productive of aught but peace and consolation even to those who might be but as "braised reeds and as smoking flax" in their own esteem.
The Irish Church Bill has been read a second time in the House of Lords, and we suppose that scarcely ever did a Bill of this importance reach that stage with so little independent support.
With the exception of the six Cabinet Ministers, there waa scarcely any one who spoke in the course of the Debate who approved either of its principle or its details. Strongly however as the Bill was disapproved, it was felt by many that, having in the course of the last session rejected the Suspensory Bill on the express ground that the sense of the People ought to be taken on the question, the Lords were bound to yield so far to the opinion so strongly expressed at the late election, as to take the Bill into consideration, and to endeavour to remove some of its worst features, and to render its provisions somewhat more consistent with justice and sound policy. No one can have read the reports of the Debate without being struck by the extraordinary ability which was displayed. The speeches were not more remarkable for their eloquence than they were for the breadth of view which was manifested. Above all, it was plain that the speakers were in earnest. They were not speaking to please constituents, but were speaking for what they felt to be the truth. And, with scarcely an exception, they evidently spoke under a sense of responsibility befitting the occasion. Grievous would be the loss if any great measure could acquire the force of law in this country until it has passed through the ordeal of a debate in the House of Lords.
But now comes the question,—What are the amendments which, consistently with the main principle of the Bill, can be introduced? Never was there an occasion which called for the exercise of more wisdom. It is clear that the opponents of the Bill, if united, have sufficient strength to carry any amendments they may determine to support. They will of course insist upon the unconditional conveyance of the glebes and glebe houses. They will have a perfect right to require that the Church body should receive an amount equal to fourteen years' purchase of the annual income of the Church. This cannot in decency be refused by those who have agreed to compensate the trustees of Maynooth on that principle. They will never admit that the Protestant Church had its beginning in the year 1660, and all endowments from private sources from the time of the Reformation must therefore be contended for. Nor do we see on what just principle the Ulster Grants can be withheld. It was upon the faith of those grants that colonists were induced to settle in that province; and by their industry, and by their loyalty, the gift has been repaid a hundredfold. What will be the fate of the Bill in the Lower House, if these alterations are made, it is impossible to say. If the same unconciliatory spirit should be manifested which has hitherto prevailed, we trust that the Lords will adhere to the amendments which, on full consideration, they may determine to adopt, and upon the Commons then will rest the consequences of the continued agitation which will follow the rejection of the Bill.
France has gone through the agony of a General Election. The Emperor still retains an overwhelming majority in the New Chamber, but the elections have shown increasing discontent. The towns have, for the most part, returned members avowedly opposed to the Government, and above three millions out of seven millions of electors have recorded their votes in their favour; and this has been done, although the whole influence of Government has been somewhat unscrupulously exercised in support of the Government candidates. The Emperor has still with him the army and the clergy, and he gains no small strength from the fears which the violence of his opponents excites in the minds of those who have anything to lose.
Spain has completed the framing of its Constitution, and, not having succeeded in finding a King, has established a Regency. The difficulty of finding a sufficient Revenue seems not less than that of finding a Sovereign, and yet the resources of that country are immense, if only they were properly developed. A recent article in the Edinburgh Review shows how both its commerce and its agriculture have been all but destroyed by misgovernment.