Page images
PDF
EPUB

sky of our troubled and cloudy future is that which the Right Hon. Mr Lowe indicated in his eloquent and too true programme of what we may expect—the instant obligation of educating the masses on a scale and at an expenditure of national outlay hitherto unknown.. But this must be an education saturated with Christian truth and based on the word of God. Yet this is the kind of education which statesmen at present ignore or undervalue, as their removal of every security for this in public schools too plainly indicates. Education without religion is merely power-power for good or evil. Education inspired by religion is loyalty to the sovereign, love to God, and love to all mankind.

[ocr errors]

IN A TIME OF RESTLESSNESS.

UNREST seems the distinguishing feature of the times. One day it takes the shape of political reform, another day of revolution. It is one day religion cooling down to the zero of Rationalism, another day rising to the fervour of fanaticism. In one class we find men casting off the precious truths that martyrs died to unfold, treating them as obsolete anachronisms, no more able to stand before the advance of a searching, really a destructive, criticism ; in another class we have numbers resuscitating old traditions, glorying in mediæval rites, and gathering from Aaron's faded wardrobe vestments that were cast off amid the light of that divine revelation whose distinctive worship is “in spirit and in truth.” Public opinion, generated in these conflicting sentiments, runs in currents that cross and meet and oppose each other, till it has become violent as equinoctial gales and restless as the waters of the sea. Rulers in Church and State seem to have let go the helm and drift before the storm helpless and at their wits' end. The “archi

tects of ruin” are in the ascendant. Secessions, disruptions, dismemberment, and revolution are the order of the day. Prerogatives flee before the democratic breath, and obedience, order, and law are treated as the worn-out prejudices of days long gone by. A coarse, meddlesome spirit, affecting the garb of learning and assuming pompous names, delights in marring and mutilating what age has made venerable and experience has found valuable, driving its victims into defiles that open into no brighter realms. The idol of modern sentiment is some cold passionless intellect, that pretends to look down with contemptuous disinterestedness, but really indifference, on all systems of religion, on all controversies about dogmas, on every bold and faithful assertion of God's eternal truth, as the dialectics of babes and the prejudices of weak or disordered minds, while he affects to breathe a diviner air, or to have reached a level in the upward ascent of humanity too sublime for its shores to be washed or wasted by the waves of popular conflicts. The rule of faith to such is some literary organ which delights in cynicism, meets arguments with sneers, and labours to put down truth by arraying its advocates in the grotesque rags of caricature.

The old mediæval way was that of branding, imprisoning, or burning the teachers of truth, but the new method, the offspring of the same spirit, is that of deriding, insulting, and turning to ridicule every one who has a creed and the magnanimity to say so. It is a happy reaction of such treatment that it makes sensible

people infer that the writer so abused is regarded by his opponents as a power, and that there must be some force in his character to deserve to be so assailed, and some truth in convictions provocative and thought worthy of so fierce opposition. They, therefore, determine to read and examine, and thus it follows that a teaching, which might have otherwise reached only the thoughtful few, strikes root in the hearts of the anxious and inquiring many. A great truth to be widely popular needs to be much opposed, and thrashed, and even derided ; and a writer to be greatly useful must first be insulted or abused or reproached. It seems that truths must rise to supremacy as Christians ascend to heaven—“through much tribulation.”

It is not the mere ornaments and accessories of religion and politics that are analyzed and broken down in this restless era; the deep and long-settled foundations are laid bare and disintegrated. Every institution tilts, every foundation gives; authority based on the truest obligations is cast off, and prerogatives vital to the cohesion and even existence of society are thrown into the crucible. Discussion there is no reason to fear; but a morbid discontent with things and institutions just because they exist is dryrot, calamity, and inevitable ruin. Arguments do not dispose of it or even dilute it, because it frets in the heart and remains untouched by the keenest logic or the weightest reasons, while it increases the irritable opposition to all about it. The age in conse

quence is swinging loose from all its moorings, and launching on old and long-hushed discussions as on an unexplored sea without chart, azimuth, or plummet.

It is scarcely necessary to go into details illustrative of this. The truth of these statements is barely denied on any side. The Bible, with an advancing school of thought, is a compilation of sincere but partially-informed men who were indebted for their histories, not to inspiration, but to traditions and fragments floated down to their day from previous generations. The venerable translation of 1611 it is proposed to supersede by a new-fangled version, more suited, it is alleged, to the 19th century. The glorious reformation of the 16th century, second only to Pentecost in what it has bequeathed to us, is held by some to have been a fanatical insurrection against the “Holy Catholic Church," and by others to have been the battle of wrangling disputants who laid stress on crotchets and razor-edged dogmas, which

advanced criticism” of our age justly denounces and heartily despises. Our venerable Established Churches, not without unfaithfulness and faults common to all denominations, are condemned, not because of their sins, but just as they have risen to the perception and acceptance of their great mission, as each an incubus upon the people, and all untenable in the light of this age. Reform, justly dutiful as the correction of what is wrong and the development of all that is good, degenerates in the minds of increasing numbers into revolution and reaction against all that

the "

« PreviousContinue »