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wisdom, of the deadly evil of religious divisions, the Roman Catholi Church ascribed to the sovereign power in the Christian society in every successive age, an infatlible spirit of truth, whereby the real meaning of any disputed passage of Scripture might be certainly and authoritatively declared ; and if the Scripture were silent, then the living voice of the Church might supply its place, ---and being guided by that same Spirit which had inspired the written Word, might pronounce upon any new point of controversy with a decision of no less authority.
• With the same view of preventing divisions, the unity of the Church was maintained, in a sense perfectly intelligible and consistent. Christians, wherever they lived, belonged literally to one and the same society,—they were subject to the same laws and to the same government National and political distinctions were wholly lost sight of; the vicar of Christ and his general council knew nothing of England or of France, of Germany or of Spain; they made laws for Christendom—a magnificent word, and well expressing those high and consistent notions of unity, on which the Church of Rome based its system. One government, one law, one faith, kept free from doubt and error by the support of an infallible authority—the theory was in perfect harmony with itself, and most imposing from its beauty and apparent usefulness; but it began with assuming a falsehood, and its intended conclusion was an impossibility.
• It is false that there exists in the Church any power or office endowed with the gift of infallible wisdom ; and therefore it is impossible to prevent differences of opinion. But the claim to infallibility was not only false but mischievous; because it encouraged the notion that these differences were to be condemned and prevented, and thus hindered men from learning the truer and better lesson, how to make them perfectly compatible with Christian union. Doubtless it were a far happier state of things if men did not differ from each other at all ; - but this may be wished for only ; it is a serious folly to expect it. For so, while grieving over an inevitable evil, we heap on it aggravations of our own making, which are far worse than the original mischief. Differences of opinion will exist, but it is our fault that they should have been considered equivalent to differences of principle, and made a reason for separation and hostility.
• Our fathers rightly appreciated the value of church unity ; but they strangely mistook the means of preserving it. Their system consisted in drawing up a statement of what they deemed important truths, and in appointing a form of worship and'a ceremonial which they believed to be at once dignified and edifying; and when they proposed to oblige every man, by the dread of legal penalties or disqualifications, to subscribe to their opinions and to conform to their rites and practices. But they forgot that while requiring this agreement, they had themselves disclaimed, what alone could justify them in enforcing it--the possession of infallibility. They had parted with the weapon which would have served them most effectually, and strange were the expedients resorted to for supplying its place. At one time it was the Apostle's Creed ; at another, the decrees of the four first general councils; or, at another, the general consent of the
primitiae Church, which formed an anthoritative standard of such, truths as might not be questioned without heresy. But though the elephant might still rest upon the tortoise, and the tortoise on the stone, yet since the claim to infallibility was once abandoned, the stone itself rested on nothing. The four first councils were appealed to as sanctioning their interpretation of Scripture by men who yet confessed that the decisions of these councils were only of force, because they were agreeable to the Scripture. Turn which ever way they would, they sought in vain for an authority in religious controversies; infallibility being nowhere to be found, it was merely opinion ayainst opi. nion ; and however convinced either party might be of the truth of its own views, they had no right to judge their opponents.
• With regard to the ceremonies and practices of the Church, a different ground was taken. It is curious to observe the contradictory positions in which the two parties were placed :—the Church of England enforcing a tyranny npon principles in themselves most liberal and most true ;-the Dissenters accidentally advocating the cause of liberty, while their principles were those of the most narrow-minded fanaticism. One feels ashamed to think that the great truths so clearly and so eloquently established by Hooker, in the earlier books of his Ecclesiastical Pólity, should have served in practice the petty tyranny of Laud and Whitgift, or the utterly selfish and worldly policy of Elizabeth. The Church of England maintained most truly, that rites and ceremonies, being things indifferent in themselves, might be altered according to the difference of times and countries, and that the regulation of such matters was left wholly to the national Church. But inasmuch as the government of the national Church was a mere despotism--the crown having virtually transferred to itself the authority formerly exercised by the Popes —its appointments were made with an imperious stiffness, which was the more offensive from the confessed indifferent nature of the matters in question ; and while one ritual was inflexibly imposed upon the whole community, in direct opposition to the feelings of many of its members, and too simple and unattractive to engage the sympathies of the multitude, this fond attempt to arrive at uniformity, inflicted a deadly blow, according to Lord Falkland's most true observation on the real blessing of Christian union.' pp. 15—21.
After a rapid sketch of the intervening period, Dr. Arnold thus adverts to the present aspect of parties.
• But the population outgrew the efforts both of the Church and of the Dissenters; and multitudes of persons existed in the country, who could not properly be said to belong to either. These were,
course, the most ignorant and degraded portion of the whole community,-a body whose influence is always for evil of some sort, but not always for evil of the same sort, which is first the brute abettor and encourager of abuses, and afterwards their equally brute destroyer. For many years, the populace hated the Dissenters for the strictness of their lives, and because they had departed from the institutions of their country; for ignorance, before it is irritated by physical distress,
and thoroughly imbued with the excitement of political agitation, is blindly averse to all change, and looks upon reform as a trouble and a disturbance. Thus, the populace in Spain and in Naples have shown themselves decided enemies to the constitutional party; and thus the mob at Birmingham, so late as the year 1791, plundered and burnt houses to the cry of “ Church and King,” and threatened to roast Dr. Priestley alive,' as a heretic. But there is a time, and it is one fraught with revolutions, when this tide of ignorance suddenly turns, and runs in the opposite direction with equal violence. Distress and continued agitation produce this change; but its peculiar danger arises from this, that its causes operate for a long time without any apparent effect, and we observe their seeming inefficiency till we think that there is nothing to fear from them; when suddenly the ground falls in under our feet, and we find that their work, though slow, had been done but too surely. And this is now the case with the populace of England. From cheering for Church and King, they are now come to cry for no bishops, no tithes, and no rates; from persecuting the Dissenters, because they had separated from the Church, they are now eagerly joining with them for that very same reason ; while the Dissenters, on their part, readily welcome these new auxiliaries, and reckon ou their aid for effecting the complete destruction of their old enemy.'
pp. 26, 271 This is not, perhaps, quite a correct statement, as regards the whole body; but we must defer all observations till another opportunity.
Art. VII. The Annual Biography and Obiluary. 1833. Vol. XVII,
8vo. pp. 476. London. 1833. This publication is very respectably maintained ; and the last year has been remarkable for the number of eminent men whom it has carried off. The principal memoirs in the present volume are, the poet Crabbe; Sir William Grant; Bishop Huntingford; Dr. Adam Clarke; Sir James Mackintosh ; (see our first article in the present Number;) Muzio Clementi ; Sir Walter Scott; Charles Butler, Esq.; Bishop Turner; Anna Maria Porter; and Jeremy Bentham. The last article is furnished by a zealous disciple and admirer. Of course, in a compilation like the present, the reader will not look for any thing so rare and valuable as impartial or elaborate biography. Facts, not opinions, are all that it should be attempted to supply.
Art. VIII. The Religion of Taste, a Poem. By Carlos Wilcox. Re
printed from the American Edition of his Literary Remains. 18mo pp. 56. London. 1832.
The Author of this Poem was a native of Newport in New Hampshire, and was born of respectable parents in 1794. In his thirtieth year,
he was ordained as the pastor of a church at Hartford ; but in about a year and a half, he was compelled by ill health to resign his charge ; and after lingering for some time, he expired May 29, 1827. His object in this poem was, to warn persons of the same ardent and poetic temperament as himself, that the vital spirit of Christianity is something more than a susceptibility of natural and moral beauty, something more than the religion of taste.' Of the genius displayed by this American Poet, the following stanzas will enable our readers to judge.
"To love the beautiful is not to hate
Or wherefore think it holier than the zest
And buried it in currents deep and dim,
And turn from all too humble with disgust ;
But oft in Taste when mindful of her birth,
Taste helps the spirit upward at the call
• The path we love,– to that all things allure ;
All draw the earthly down to their vile clod;
The universe is calm to faith serene;
But make the blasted earth an aspect wear,