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grounds, into which it does not. concern me here to enter. It was used at the first, as might be expected, against Christianity and not in favour of it.1 I would rather remind you that, though in the hour of doubt and perplexity we may sigh after that nearness to Apostolic tradition which was the heritage of the first ages of the Church, and cry with Plato, "They of old time dwelt more nigh to G-od ";2 yet is there a counter-advantage in our remoteness from the beginning of the faith which it is the purpose of these Lectures to work out. Religions, it must be admitted, are perishable.
Age to age succeeds,
It has been asserted, though no doubt questionably, that there is no country except India which has the same religion now which it had at the birth of Christ.3 Before the event no one could appeal to experience .as an evidence of the power or genius of Christianity. Numberless objections can be imagined which might have been raised to its success. Apparent impossibilities might very
1 "Quanto venerabilius ac melius antistitem veritatis majorum excipere disciplinam? religiones traditas colere?" Minucius F., Oclav., cap. v.; and Lactantius, Div. Inst., II. vii.: "Tanta est auctoritas vetuatatis ut inquirere in earn scelus esse dicatur."
2 Ol fiiv naXaiol, KpfliToves fjftau Kai ryyvrfpta Ofdv oiKovvres. Philtb., 16 c.; cf. Cic, Legg., II. xi.: "Antiquitas proxime accedit ad Dcfls."
■ See Draper, History of Intellectual Development in Eurojie, i. 63.
easily have been alleged. But eighteen hundred years have passed and the faith of Christ is still a power in the world. "After a revolution," says Gibbon,1 "of thirteen or fourteen centuries, that religion is still professed by the nations of Europe, the most distinguished portion of human kind in arts and learning as well as in arms." "Its chief home is still in the bosom of enterprise, wealth, science, and civilization, and it is at this moment most powerful amongst the nations that have most of these."3 If on the wane it is still vigorous.3 But is it on the wane? And in its collision with the " elements of the world," with political power, national temperament, antecedent tradition, philosophical antagonism, with moral and physical limitations of whatever kind, has it suffered on the way ?" The fishermen of Gennesaret," it has
1 Vol. II., p. 151, ed. Milman.
8 Rogers, Essays, ii. 343. In this view Christendom represents what Cornte (Phil. Pos., v. 7) calls " Ve'lite de Vhumanite." This fact must be admitted to carry weight in the argument from development. El fitv yap ra avoryra atptytro avrav, rjv nv Ti To Xeyopitvov, et Of Kat To (ppovipa, was \tyoiev av Ti ; Arist., N. Eth., X. ii. 4. "Christianity," says Dr. Mozley (Hampton Lectures, p. 27), "is the religion of the civilized world. . . . This is a great result—the establishment and the continuance of a religion in the world—as the religion too of the intelligent as well as of the simpler portion of society." "Christendom includes the entire civilized world, that is to say, all nations whose agreement on a matter of opinion has any real weight or authority."—Sir G. Cornewall Lewis, Influence of Authority, p. 69.
3 "What the Church has lost in her appeal to the imagination she has gained in philosophical cogency by the evidence of her persistent vitality. She is as vigorous in her age as in her youth, and has upon her prima facie signs of divinity."—Dr. Newman, Grammar of Assent, 425, 6.
This line of proof
been picturesquely said, " planted Christianity, and many a winter and many a summer have since rolled over it. More than once it has shed its leaves and seemed to be dying; and when the buds burst again, the colour of the foliage was cbanged."1 Something it may, perhaps must, have parted with; something gained: to wbat extent, and in what directions? Such are some of the thoughts or, it may be said, admissions which crowd upon the mind in approaching the subject of the present Lectures—the steadfastness of Christianity an argument for the truth and ultimate permanence of its doctrines.2
§ 2. Such an argument, it may be permitted to inductive point out, is drawn from experience and is an peals to appeal to the logic of facts. In this respect it is perhaps suited to the bias of the English mind, and certainly falls in with the intellectual temper of the time. For what is called the spirit of the
1 Froude, Short Studies, Series II., p. 32. Thus Pascal, Pensées, II. 200 (ed. Faugèïe): "Il est venu enfin en la consommation des temps, et depuis on a vu naître tant de schismes et d'héresies, tant renverser d'états, tant de changements en toutes choses ; et cette Église qui adore Celui qui a toujours éte adore, a subsiste sans interruption. Et ce qui est admirable, incomparable, et tout a fait divin, est que cette religion qui a toujours dure, a toujours éte combattue. Mille fois elle a éte à la veille d'une destruction universelle, et toutes les fois qu'elle a éte en cet état, Dieu l'a relevée par des coups extraordinaires de sa puissance." Mr. Buckle (Hist. Civ., II. 285) assumes, for he does not go into proofs, that Christianity has been affected by foreign events contrary to the original scheme.
2 "Nulle autre religion n'a la perpétuite; qui est la principale marque de la véritable."—Pascal, Pensies, II. 368. "Les trois marques de la religion sont la perpétuite, la bonne vie, les miracles."—lb.
age is unmistakably inductive: and by the inductive spirit is really intended a mental disposition to rest upon observed facts or repetitions of fact, not upon any inherent necessity of sequence or prior proof. There would seem to be three main roads open to mankind for reaching a knowledge of God, of our duties towards Him, and of His will respecting us. These are our own nature and constitution, the testimony of mankind, and the course of the world's history.1 Of these, the last, as being the most matter of fact, would probably in the present day be held to be the least disputable. The results of a religious system furnish at least an indirect proof of its truth. Taken in connection with prophecy, this proof becomes unanswerable; but it has also a value and importance of its own. Such accordingly, as regards the fortunes of the Roman Empire, an epitome of the history of the world, was the motive of Augustine's masterpiece of Christian Apology, the Civitas Dei.2 There is equal reason
1 See Dr. Newman, Grammar of Assent, p. 384.
2 Dr. Mozley, Bampton Lectures, p. 263, points out that Augustine pushes this argument almost to the exclusion of miracles, e.g. Civ. Dei, xxii. 5: "hoc nobis unum grande miraculum sufficit, quod earn terrarum orbis sine ullis miraculis credidit." This is no doubt rhetorically expressed. Elsewhere he states the proper relation of miracles to the spread of Christianity. "Ergo Ille afferens medicinam qua; corruptissimos mores sanatura esset, miraculis conciliavit auctoritatem, auctoritate meruit fidem, fide contraxit multitudincm, multitudine obtinuit vetustatcm, vetustate roboravit religionem."—De Util. Cred.,c xiv., and cf. Be Per. Bel., c. iii., xxv. Thus he rests his faith on the traditional for its being the ground of Christian defence now. No analysis of modern civilization can omit to consider the influences of Christianity. A test is thus supplied of its tendencies, its character, and its efficacy.1
Possible § 3. It is with the field of time as with areas of a lapse of mensurable space. A certain remoteness from the cen unes. viewe(j is necessary to clear and distinct
vision. Still more necessary is it for any purpose of determining the relative magnitude and actual proportions of the thing perceived. These can be understood only by the medium of intervening objects. The same holds good in any mental
reception of Christianity. "Nullis me video credidisse nisi populorum atque gentium confirmatao opinioni ac famae admodum celeberrimae: hoe autem populos Bcclesiai Catholicae mysteria usquequaque occupasse. . . Credidi, ut dixi, famae cclebritate, consensione, vetustate roboratee."— Ib. Thus antiquity and universality of reception gradually take the place of miracles. Cf. also De Ver. Rel., vii. 13: "Hujus religionis sectands caput est historia et prophetia dispensationis temporalis divinae providentiaj pro salute generis humani in aeternam vitam reformandi atque reparandi." The germs of Augustine's argument in the Civitas Dei will be found in Tertullian, Apol., cap. xl. At that time the power of the Gods was estimated by the condition of the nations who worshipped them. Cf. Gieseler, Ch. Hist., I. § 16.
1 "All that we call moder n civilization in a sense which deserves the name, is the visible expression of the transforming power of the Gospel."—Froude, Short Studies, II. p. 39. "Christianity," writes Mr. Lecky, "the life of morality, the basis of civilization, has regenerated the world." Montesquieu (Esprit des Lais, XXIV.) recognizes this argument. "Comme on peut juger parmi les tentibres celles qui sont les moins épaisses, et parmi les abymes ceux qui sont les moins profonds, ainsi l'on peut chercher entre les religions fausses cellos qui sont les plus conformes au bien de la société; celles qui, quoiqu'elles n'aient pas l'effet de mencr les hommes aux felicites de l'autre vie, peuvent le plus contribucr a leur bonheur dans celle-ci."