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thereof; to-morrow will take care of to-morrow's affairs," -he uttered a thought pregnant with philosophy as with faith. The plan of prognosticating practical evil has now become a favourite method of trying to intimidate free thought and free speech, This plan has been carried to its extreme by the present Bishop of Peterborough, who said that he would not stop to inquire whether the tidings of science were true or not; he only asked whether they were glad tidings. Not finding them glad tidings--and they certainly are not promising for bishops—his lordship unhesitatingly rejects them, irrespective of their truth or untruth. The Bishop only caricatures a way of dealing with new truth which is being more plausibly used by many others than by this prelate, who has so well merited the thanks of scientific men by his naïve utterance.
Most of us, whose memories run back towards the beginning of this generation, must recognise a marked change in the tone of orthodoxy concerning rationalism. In place of the old intolerance, we now find a tone of apology, and meet with numbers of people who are eager to persuade us that they are not so orthodox as they seem. Again, we are as often appealed to to exercise charity as, in earlier times, we have had to appeal for it ourselves. It is to be hoped we shall all cultivate that virtue, but heretics cannot shut their eyes to the novelty of the situation. When cremation was lately proposed, and was bitterly denounced by the Catholic clergy in Belgium, a paper in that country remarked that it was a pity the Church which so opposed burning the bodies of the dead had not always
manifested an equal repugnance to burn the bodies of the living ; similarly, it is an instance of the irony of history that successors of the religionists who so long ruled England by reign of terror should now appeal for charity. Even Protestantism, when it followed Romanismi in power, did not break its terrible weapons ; it used: them untił they become dul). Reduced at last to battle in an Age of Reason, and to answer argument with argument instead of with prisons and persecutions, it calls for the toleration it so long denied. Very well, , let us have it,-charity for all! We may doubt whether we should have heard so much about it had Superstition continued as strong as of old,—but still the high rule of reason is to speak the truth in love.
At the same time, long experience should make us prudent. The more valuable a coin the more dangerous is its counterfeit, and the more attractive a virtue the more necessary that its garb shall not be concedeď to its opposite. Charity is due to every sincere man, but not to proven error.
If a man be in error, the more I love him the more will I hate the falsity that misleads him. When the wolf pleaded for compassion, the shepherd replied, “Mercy to you were cruelty to the lamb." It is difficult to see how it can be consistent with love to our fellow-beings that we should be tender to the errors that afflict them, or to the superstition that devours them. Clemency becomes cruelty when it parts from common sense.
All this is too plain to require argument. But of late its force has been escaped by another plea.
now told that in the progress of the world the old beliefs have lost their darker features. The old talons of persecution have been pared away; fanaticism has become unfashionable ; hell has been spiritualised ; and creeds that once roused agony, fear, and consequent intolerance are now softened into unrealised words or mystical meanings. Superstitions may remain, but they are now pretty superstitions, like a child's belief in fairies. And we are asked, Is it not unnecessary, nay cruel, to take away such sweet illusions, when they are so harmless ? A gentleman who takes his family to church regularly, said to me, “I know as well as any one that the clergyman preaches fables, but I do not care to worry my children by telling them so. When I take them to the pantomime, I don't tell them, All that scenery is only daubed pasteboard, the fairy there is merely a painted woman, and her jewels only glass, bought for a penny. Whether at church or theatre I prefer to humour their pleasant illusions, and let them remain happy in them as long as they can.” It appeared to me strange that this gentleman should not see the great difference between transient illusion and permanent delusion. He humours the illusions of the pantomime, because he knows very well that his child will outgrow them. It would distress him very much if he thought that, when his child grew to be twenty years of age, it would still believe in the reality of fairies. But, in encouraging the pulpit fables, he is fostering things that, from being the illusions of childhood, harden into the delusions of the whole life.
Mr. Tennyson has put this common notion into rhyme,
and his verses are the favourite quotation of the school we are considering. They were recently offered by the Atheneum as a rebuke to Mr. Morley for his excellent work“ On Compromise," and again by a plausible writer in censure of the plain-speaking of certain pulpits. The verses run thus :
* O thou that after toil and storm
May'st seem to have reach'd a purer air,
Whose faith has centre everywhere,
Her early heaven, her happy views,
These verses are nearly the only ones which the poet and his friends might wish obliterated from his fair pages, as representing (one must believe) his first timorous and unsteady step on a path which we may hope has since led to heights that shame their faithless fears. Passing their undertone of contempt for the female intellect, of which the poet was probably unconscious, let us consider what our duty is to that praying sister, or brother either, whose illusions we are called upon to spare. If our sister is praying in earnest, if doubt has not crept into her heart—we must not call it her intellect, I supposethen her faith does not merely include
“Her early heaven, her happy views," but also her early hell, and some most unhappy views. If her prayer be not a mere attitude, she is probably imploring an angry God not to send her children,
brothers, or friends into everlasting anguish and despair. If that be her creed, she can hardly be leading such melodious days that it should be cruel to hint that her apprehensions may be unfounded.
But the poet might remind us that he asks us to leave her the pleasing side of her creed only—to remove her fears, but humour her hopes though they be false. Our sister must be feeble indeed if this be possible; her powers must be very weak if she does not perceive that her Bible and her Prayer-Book tell her as much of God's wrath as of his love, correlate hell and heaven, and that, from such source, she has no better authority for her hopes than for her fears. But granting that the process be possible, and that we find her living in an atmosphere of rosy delusions, the question arises, ought we to avoid disturbing them? Do not let us confuse that question with any other. It is not whether we should obtrude our opinions on others, but whether we should sanction their opinions when we believe them false ; it is not whether we should be rude, but whether we should be sincere. One who loves truth will not need exhortation to try and make it attractive instead of repulsive. The danger is the other way, that truth will be so smooth and polite as not to be recognised for what it really is. The real question is whether truth should be concealed and suppressed out of consideration for any one's pleasant prejudices.
It is perfectly easy to show on general principles that such tampering with truth is disloyal and more dangerous than honest error itself. It is easy to show that to sup