the spirit of the man, Bismarckism, is decreed to death if there be any principle of political life in Germany_decreed to death at the hands of the idea which France proclaimed to Europe eighty years ago. 1789 will avenge 1871. The shamelessness of strength, a superb calculation of forces, with entire indifference as to the moral nature of those forces, cannot be things which men will continue to honour. Germany must yield to France, or Germany must perish from among the nations. But the conquest achieved by France will not be one of iron and blood, but by the spirit and by love, a conquest which saves and does not slay. At present neither the property nor the lives of the German people are their own. The Prussian Chambers are without the right of voting the yearly supplies. Ministers are irresponsible. The years of the lives of each generation are consumed in military service, not at the will of the people, but at the will of their royal master. They are compelled into war at his command, whether they approve war, or, as in the case of the struggle with Austria, entirely disapprove it. This condition of things can only be temporary. If one had no faith in democracy, one might have some faith in the inexhaustible power of the truths proclaimed by Christ. And it must surely be discovered that a Christian king is not one who can, with soldierly religion, indite a devout telegram; but one who is a shepherd, not a robber, of his people; who feeds his flock, and not devours it; whose sceptre is held forth to touch for blessing, not to slay or smite. It is to be feared that the exclusively military tendencies of the present Emperor will render him incapable of a very wise or generous policy. Over halfa-century's diligent practice of the goose-step give the muscles and the nerve-currents a set which cannot be easily altered. Only that history warns us “Set not your faith in princes,we might hope for better things from his successor.





Essays, Theological and Literary. By RICHARD HOLT HUTTON,

M.A. (Lond.). 2 vols. London : Strahan & Co., 1871.

IN spite of the modern idolatry of general laws and the prevalence

of routine controversies, the influence of a truly original mind is not less at the present day than it was in the heroic ages. Of course there is an infinitely larger number of minds who are capable of exerting influence as well as of being affected by it, so that human vanity is less often flattered by visible sway; while many a mind exercises a wide influence over others without any proportionate index to the fact in contemporary annals. But original spiritual force always produces its effect sooner or later, and when its influence reaches a certain point it is desirable that such influence should be distinctly recognised, that it may be rightly understood in its true strength or weakness. Among the minds that have long been influencing English intellectual and social life without an adequate recognition is the author of the Essays now before us, Mr. Richard H. Hutton, chiefly known as editor of the Spectator newspaper; and the publication of some of his most finished writings affords a good opportunity for attempting some estimate of his position in English literature and speculative thought.

Since the time when the fresh spiritual life of the Reformation gradually died out, the world of European belief has tended to split into two hostile camps; viz., that of unreasoning orthodoxy, and

that of anti-supernatural realism. But this evil spell, which (like that in Goethe's Mährchen) disintegrates the natural wholeness of religious life, condemning men to a half-existence of one sort or the other, is temporary as the causes which gave it birth, and is already beginning to give way in many directions. It is true that there are many thinkers, especially in England, who have full faith in the triumph of affirmative religion, who have yet by no means grasped all the difficulties of the problem; men whose intellects, though free and powerful in some directions, are either constitutionally, or from special culture, unable to comprehend where the weak points of the Catholic Faith lie, and who cannot, therefore, discriminate between its pure gold, its disfiguring alloy, or its mere rust. Consequently, their defences of religion are, to a certain extent, rather damaging than otherwise, as leading outsiders to distrust the cause so halfblindly served. But there are other thinkers, who realize the full “ burden of the mystery” which presses on this generation, and who have too strong a sense of the realities at stake to care ,about any surface appearances in dealing therewith ; thinkers, who, with whatever variations in their range of vision, see definitely and realize vividly whatever they see at all; and, having grasped at first-hand some of the most important of spiritual truths, hold them as clues by which to guide their fellow-men some steps out of the darkness into the light. It is to this advanced guard of religious pioneers that Mr. R. H. Hutton belongs. His theological writings are not of a generally “popular” kind, being too much out of the beaten track of the routine controversies that impose on

so many would-be thcological readers. It is needless to say that he has no anxiety to be regarded as “orthodox;" but it may not be equally superfluous to observe that he is no less free from the converse ambition to be a proficient in heresy—an ambition which, consciously or unconsciously, bewitches and distorts the mind of many an active and generous theologian at the present time. Mr. Hutton's imagination is wholly undisturbed by the phantoms of orthodoxy and heresy in any way; all he cares for is to discover truth, and he is equally ready to hold it in a “minority of one” or in the fulness of social sympathy.

The primary characteristic of his mind is, undoubtedly, the vividness of his theological instincts. It is evident that beneath all the life that is not life” which may claim his attention, the one thing for which he really cares is to pierce to the truth, the light, the life of God, and to live from that outwards. Even in his political articles in the Spectator this Hebrew background constantly shows itself, and lends them a peculiar colour and charm. But the speciality of his mind, as a whole, is the unusual combination of this leading impulse with a strongly-developed interest in all life, whether divine

or human. Many of the greatest religious geniuses have been so engrossed by the current of direct conscious sympathy with God that they have lost all interest in the outlying world, and do not care to trace His action in its more indirect channels; while the minds that have the greatest constitutional aptitude for appreciating the ideal in philosophy, science, art, or poetry, too often " in the stream the source forget,” and cherish but little actual communion with the Lord of the spirit. But in Mr. Hutton's mind, the “Semitic” and the

Aryan" elements are so nearly equal by constitutional temperament that it is only because the former, when truly realized, must be supreme, that it is the predominant influence with him—the very equality of the development illustrating more distinctly its innate supremacy. Minds of this type, to which the natural and the supernatural are alike divine, are the minds most capable of helping the disunited halves of this age to find out their capacities for reunion, by interpreting to each section the special truths represented by the other, and tracing the divergent streams to their common source. And this is what Mr. Hutton's writings have chiefly attempted.

The contents of these two volumes, chiefly selected from Mr. Hutton's contributions to the National Review, scarcely amount to one-half of his best productions, but they include the maturest of his longer Essays, and except for the absence of political, humorous, and satirical papers, give a very fair representation of his mind as a whole. In the first four Essays, the fundamental truths of spiritual Theism are defended against the objections respectively raised by Atheism, by Science, and by Pantheism. To the same class of subjects belong the criticisms on Dr. Mansel (in the opening portions of the Essay entitled, “What is Revelation ?”), and the Essay on “ The Hard Church.” All these may be loosely classed in one group as treating of theological doubt and negation. relates chiefly to the development of theological and religious beliefs, comprising the second half of the Essay on Revelation (to which the Essay in the second volume on “The Poetry of the Old Testament” is a sort of episode or parenthesis), and treating of the Incarnation, of the New Testament narratives in relation to the criticisms of Baur and Renan, and of the chief characteristics of the Romanist and Protestant Churches. The remaining Essays consist of a literary group, on Goethe, Wordsworth, Shelley, Browning, George Eliot, A. H. Clough, and Hawthorne. Each of these groups will be best appreciated if studied as a cluster.

The most characteristic feature in the first group of Essays is the spiritual stand-point from which they are written. The common way of regarding those who reject the great affirmations of Christian Theism, is to consider them as dwelling in a sort of outside world, to

Another group

which the light of God only comes in a dim twilight glimmer, and can never do otherwise until they can be persuaded to cross the threshold of belief, through which alone they can re-enter the world of true life. Even those believers whose creed is limited to the first clause, “I believe in God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth,” are frequently as unaware as the most bigoted of Churchmen that there can be anything but pure evil in a state of religious disbelief. Mr. Hutton, however, is one of the few who, perceiving that “human trust does not create God, and that human distrust would not annihilate Him," recognise as a necessary consequence that “when people assume that an Atheist must 'live without God in the world, they assume what is fatal to their own Theism.” Moreover, that while human convictions continue to partake of the unavoidable imperfection of the nature in which they arise, it is clear that doubt has an indispensable function to fulfil in the training of our race, and that even when it is doubt of essential truth, it may often be an instrument of the most valuable mental and moral discipline in the hands of a merciful God for the development of a maturer and more genuine life in man. Perhaps no writer, so unmistakably and fervently Christian, has ever vindicated so thoroughly, and with such a variety of illustrations, the sacredness of honest doubt, as Mr. Hutton has done. The root of this spirit in him is not a mere latitudinarian “ toleration” of mental differences, nor even a just reluctance to judge the hearts which can only be truly known to their Creator; it is the conviction that of the two halves of our religious life-viz., our conscious dependence upon God, and His ceaseless influence upon us—the latter is the real source of all that may be good in us, and that its activity, though limited or extended by our repudiation or acceptance thereof, may often be quite as much exercised when we are wholly unconscious of it, as when the reverse is the case. Nay, further, that “ belief”-i.e., theological assurance -is not necessarily a criterion of our right relation to God at all, but may be notoriously present where that relation is lamentably faulty, and may be almost or entirely absent where the soul is really under God's most searching discipline, and is faithfully, though unconsciously, obeying his guiding hand. Hence, Mr. Hutton's method of pleading for the great realities of faith is not one which begins by setting up a system of belief in contrast to systems of negation; he is content to start from the attempts of his opponents to grasp the truth as it appears to themselves, and is anxious that they should work out their own lines of thought to the utmost.

The first great step,” he says, “is to make a man hold his doubts clearly and seriously, to bring them into really articulate life, to let him see their full depth, and be fairly haunted by their practical urgency; and then,

« ElőzőTovább »