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ture. The charm which cements petty communions will dissolve; the excellence of truth will be felt, and the fanaticism of dogmas will die away, when all men learn to hold in contempt everything on religion but the ascertained sense of God's Revelation."
If he were writing now, Mr. Taylor would scarce use the past tense, and say “ have excluded." This half-century has done much to bring theology under the power of those forces which have been operative in the realm of natural science. In that “ battle of the standards,” which forecasting conservative minds see has yet to be fought, Culture will lend no mean service. By the aid which it may render in distinguishing what Taylor designates the “principal” sense of Scripture from its “adjunctive," by a clearer recognition of the limits of human thought and the conditions of human life, by a recollection of the truth that Scripture leaves partial and obscure the very facts which are its specialty and glory, it may tend to guard those who may take this grave matter in hand from giving a despotic determination, an elaborate definition,—which is in danger of reading a human metaphysic into Scripture, instead of furnishing a brief and useful symbol, by which its teaching may be recognised. One other consideration may be added. Culture, on its literary side, makes us more susceptible of the inner life. The characteristic style of an author witnesses as with the authority of an expert concerning that subtle quality we call "genius,”—a quality none the less real because it oft denies analysis, is its own law, declines other standards, finds its true parallel in itself. This may help to recall a sometimes forgotten fact, viz., that theology, too, has its spirit and poetry, which is prone, like the beauty of the flower in the hand of the botanist, to escape under a too rigid analysis. Its deepest conception is spiritual, and this will oft decline on intellectual equivalent. Faith may well shrink from the critical judgment of Culture, if the age which has witnessed a revision of the terfond translation of the Bible, should find it unequal to a revision of the standards.
Looking in the direction of ecclesiasticism, it is interesting to note how seldom, even in quarters where it was common, the Divine right, per se, is now claimed. Even where there is a frank and honest avowal that the order held or polity adopted harmonises best with the references of Scripture, and is best adapted to conserve its spirit and propagate its principles, it is not so held as to unchurch those who think differently. Of course, there are not
* History of Fanaticism, pp. 286-7-8-9.
wanting those who, with a faltering voice, assert that their tabernacle in shape and size, with all its furniture, is a fac simile of the model received, and who have little save a feeling of pity or contempt for those who think otherwise. True, we have witnessed an amazing harvest from the “church principles,” sown with such zeal and ability more than forty years since. The vitality of this movement in part is undoubtedly to be found in its polar antagonism to the materialism dominating much of the literature of the day. History furnishes us with abundant illustrations of atbeism and superstition finding a common home in the same soul, and thus no faith in one part of the community tends to nourish an excess of faith in another. The pendulum of opinion seems prone to swing from one side to the other. But great and unexpected as has been its success, it will do little amongst the leaders of thought to stay the “trend” in the opposite direction. On the contrary, that section of Culture we have had chiefly in view, will deem it an anachronism-a piece of mediævalism, which by some mistake has drifted into this, the last quarter of the nineteenth century. The arrogancy of the claims of sacerdotalism, will do nothing to mitigate the stringency of the inquiry which challenges the very ground on which it stands. Its pretensions will look little less than absurd in the presence of such questions as “Is a Revelation possible?” “Is any one fact or truth 'sacred' more than any other?” “Is the God and Father of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ more than a tendency, not ourselves tending to righteousness?”
If, in the direction of “creeds,” Culture tends to abate polemic fervour, by showing that seeming contradictory theses are oft but different sides of the same shield, we may look to it to aid in a like good work in the direction of ecclesiasticism, by moderating pretensions which have repressed the Christian instinct which has sought in vain to make itself heard, reminding “All ye are brethren.” Take one fact in the history of a section of the Christian Church, which, for reasons we need not mention, has oft indicated an unreadiness to hearken to this truth. In a certain chaotic stage of its history, aided by reforming elements on the Continent, a strong current was setting in in the direction of a form that it deems outside those channels of virtue and grace which belong to it alone.* True, as Milton publicly and wittily put it, “new presbyter” might have been but “old priest writ large." But Culture will discount such
* For the authorities for the movement to reform the Church of England on presbyterian rather than prelatic basis, see Appendix to M'Crie's Life of Knox.
claims, by these significant facts on the page of history. The logic of facts-here at least—is telling on the logic of systems, and compelling a slow and reluctant assent to the truth. The (Divine) life · is more than (the) meat (of church form), and the body (of religious service) more than (the) raiment (of denominational distinction). If the churches purblindly ignore this, let them not wonder if Culture should be found sitting in the seat of the scornful, with the smile of pity on its face, and the language of satire on its tongue. The limits of our powers, the exigencies of our work, the necessity for cooperation, have all a tendency to deepen that sectarianism which seems ingrained in human nature, and so to obscure the fact, that the Church exists for the truth, and not the truth for the Church. Culture may and should reinforce Faith here, and whilst humbling some of the conceits which it has fondly cherished, lift it up into that region where it will catch the accents of the voice of its sweetest singer warbling
Our little systems have their day,
They have their day and cease to be;
They are but broken lights of Thee,
And Thou, oh Lord, art more than they. But what is this but a faint echo of the nobler word of Paul, who gives us the true view-point from which to solve the claims of each. With a logic which Culture has sharpened and made penetrating, discerning what special appropriation of the Divine fulness each may have made—what special service in setting up that kingdom, which is righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost, each may have rendered in the aggressive fervour of Methodism, the dignified order of Episcopalianism, the articulated force of Presbyterianism, the simple freedom of Congregationalism,-it will see so many reflections of the one glory which it is the believer’s privilege to appropriate, for “all are yours, because ye are Christ's, and Christ is God's.”
The last feature mentioned was the cultus, by which Faith is nourished. Forms of cultus' are more tenacious of life, even than forms of Faith. These may be vigorous when the latter are decadent or dead. The reason for this is not far to seek. Their stronghold is often sentiment rather than reason. Appealing, as cultus does, more to the emotional side of our nature, it presents a border land, which Culture has not been slow to invade. What may be termed the æsthetics of worship attract it. A danger here threatens, the nearness of which is to be measured by the nearness of the emotional to the spiritual in man. The sensuous may be, often is, mis
taken for the moral, and the soothing for the spiritual. Art seeks to use religion, whereas Faith is honoured only when it uses art. * The facts and truths of faith freely bind themselves to the inspirations of art, and serve as wings by which it seeks to rise to its ideal. But let it stay here, and homage is done to physical form and harmony which by right belongs alone to spiritual fact and truth. Under the pretence of bringing frankincense and myrrh to lay at the feet of the Christian's Master, there has been simply worship rendered at the shrine of art. Where the spiritual is sacrificed to the artistic, faith is dishonoured; and to allow it without protest is to be disloyal to itself. Here and there lingers still an unreasoning attachment to the past. Certain forms entwine themselves about memories that take back the thought to days when constancy was tried by a baptism of suffering and death. To such, these, with unseen hands, seem to have cradled the childhood, moulded the youth, fashioned the manhood, and supported the age of men who, in moral and intellectual thews and sinews, were the peers
about us. To touch these seems to be separating ourselves from this noble band It were enough to reply that, if what was a living robe to their faith is proving a cerecloth to ours, this is reason why we should be quit of it. But, in fact, there is no such separation, but rather a coming
The change asked, aims but further to unveil the fair form and face of that truth they loved so well. Culture here is no iconoclastic fury, dashing aside that which nourished faith in the past, but the hand of the zeitgeist, gently disengaging that which has got wrapped about it, and which would hinder its work in the present. "Tis but the wash of the tide of intellect and reason, clearing away the lichen from the rock of eternal truth.
Carlyle's words in reference to the sacred guild of literature, have a tenfold force when they are made to apply to literature where it touches and serves the queen of the sciences, known as theology. “Literary men,” says he, “are the appointed interpreters of the 'Divine Idea' pervading the visible universe; a perpetual priesthood, we might say, standing forth, generation after generation, as the dispensers and living types of God's everlasting wisdom, to show it in their writings and actions, in such particular forms as their own particular times require it in. For each age, by the law of its nature, is different from every other age, and demands a different representation of the Divine Idea, the essence of which is the same in all; so that the literary man of one century is only by interpretation applicable to the words of another.”
What though some of the apostles of Culture, leaving
They who feel that “life's bases rest beyond the probe of chemic test,” know that the issue of such excursions can only be to demarcate the boundary where reason must rise to Faith, unless her way is to be stopped. The attempt, that first failed at Shinar, will meet with the same revolt, no matter what form it may take. No tower built on earth with earthern bricks can reach the sky. The facts of revelation do but fulfil the unconscious yearnings of heathendom. The sore problems of the human soul are solved and solvable only by “Him who came down from heaven, even the Son of Man which is in heaven.” Surely then, no nobler work can engage the powers of the most regal intellect, than to attempt that eirenicon which the faith of Faith believes must exist between the highest culture and the truest faith.