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honest enterprize, interfere to disturb this ascending movement of the Spirit of humanity. We know not what Political and Social Science may yet demonstrate or achieve, but of this we are sure, that the Spirit of Jesus embraces and indicates them all; and that if we were but imbued with his Spirit, if we would but act upon his principle of human brotherhood, if we would but seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, “ all these things would be added unto us."
J. H. T.
ART. IX.-ON THE RECENT ATTEMPTS TO STIMULATE A SPIRIT OF FANATICISM AND PERSECUTION IN THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND. By W. J. Fox. London: Charles Fox.
NOTHING can be more seasonable than this able Lecture. It was imperatively called for by the bad spirit of the times, and admirably does it depict, rebuke, and reason with that spirit. Thus ever should the Evil Spirit call out the pure, holy, beneficent Spirit, to overcome Evil with Good. A religious Teacher can in no way confer a greater benefit on Society, than by watching the signs of the times, the dominant temper of the public mind, and forcing “every spirit” to come into the light, there to reveal its features. This description of power requires a combination of the rarest talents, and nowhere could they be found more richly than in Mr. Fox.
We notice this Lecture, not to criticize or review it, but for the sake of quoting from it; indeed, we venture to recommend strongly the whole series of “ Reports of Lectures,” of which this is the nineteenth.
Mr. Fox opens the case against the Clergy thus :
“ There has been of late an unwonted stir amongst the clergy and partizans of the church by law established. The long dormant thunders of the ecclesiastical courts have been invited to utter their voices ; cru. sading missions against Popery stimulate and direct the fervour of multitudes ; newspapers teem with theological discussions and vituperations ; in default of an inquisition or a censorship, literary criticism writes in gall its Index Expurgatorius; the voice of rebuke is frequent and loud at episcopal visitations ; the dykes of sectarian demarcation are widened and deepened over the face of the land, conveying every where a full stream of bitter animosity ; troops of clergymen grace with their presence, and animate by their exhortations, the gatherings of political partizans; and while they consecrate, by their benedictions, the banners of electioneering strife, the libations of lay piety are freely poured on the altar of legal orthodoxy. These phenomena are something new in the world, though, like other seeming irregularities, they are by no means inexplicable.
“ Were they merely the symptoms of enthusiastic zeal in a sect which interfered not with the rights and privileges of others; in this activity, were it always remembered what is due from man to his neighbour, to his opinions and character, to his enjoyments and prospects, much might be allowed to pass by without reproof; and some things, for their assumed motive, perhaps might obtain approbation; but the proceedings referred to involve the comforts of individuals to so large an extent, and so materially interfere with the peace and well-being of society, that we may well be excused for directing our attention to them, scrutinizing their causes, estimating their character, and speculating on their tendency.”—p. 1.
Mr. Fox speculates on the causes of sudden zeal in a Body so little open to the usual religious motives to exertion, as an Established Priesthood. These he reduces to three, religious rivalry, leading to an awkward imitation of the zeal of sects—the growing intelligence of the People exciting alarm—and the apprehension of invaded revenues, especially from the advance of popular influence in the Government. These influences are traced, both historically and philosophically, with great power and clearness. We quote the passage describing the effect of popular education on the fear-born zeal of the Clergy :
" If the general progress of intelligence be not always carefully watched, and promptly obstructed, by the drowsy priesthood of an establishment, yet the alarm is sure to be taken when any particular symptom of that progress becomes strongly marked. Not more immediately evident to the Church of Rome was the danger of the doctrine of the antipodes for the souls of philosophers, than to the Church of England the danger of reading, writing, and arithmetic for the children of the poor. A priesthood has an instinctive dread of the advance of knowledge, whether in the higher truths that engage the speculative, or the elementary information that is diffused among the multitude. Almost all religionists with whom orthodox belief is a primary article, whether that belief be deemed needful for the salvation of souls or for the security of endowments, have acuteness enough to perceive the natural incompatibility of mental activity with uniformity of faith. Dissenters talk of ‘unsanctified knowledge' in tones of serious deprecation. A large latitude of speculation is, indeed, allowed by an establishment to those philosophers whose maxim is, to think with the wise and talk or act with the vulgar ; who neither avowedly dissent nor popularly attack; who wear a veil of conformity, though it be perfectly transparent : but when intellect prepares, like an Athlete, to grapple with the fallacies of theology, politics, and morals ; when ‘many run to and fro, and knowledge
is increased ;' then may it be predicted with certainty, that an established church is about to become extraordinarily zealous.”—p.5.
The enthusiasm of an Establishment is necessarily irregular, and stirred into action by external forces. An establishment, as such, is subject to no strong impulses. Quiet, order, decency, conventional propriety, stateliness—these are its mission. There is no stirring from within that forces it into the manifestations of energetic life. Consequently, all its outbreaks of zeal are antagonistic—against some foe—and then it combats as for existence. Having no living spirit of its own to occupy it, its mission is to fight against all other spirits that presume to make their life prominent.
“Possessed of no element of spiritual life, when stirred up to zeal it seems not to know what zeal is; but lays hold of one point in one direction, of another in another, alike unreasonably violent upon all. The very diversity shows that there is no one pure, simple, and true principle at work as the life of these different manifestations.
« Of what do they consist? We find something like a theological crusade preached against that Romish church, to which the Church of England bears a closer affinity than any other church in the world. Ceaseless attacks are made on the Irish system of education, under the pretext that it does not put the entire Bible into the hands of every child instructed in the schools patronized by government. And what judi. cious parent ever does enforce the attention of his child to every portion of the entire Bible ? The Jews, who were the first recipients of the sacred volume, while they were yet visited by the influences that dictated its composition, kept back one book at least from their offspring till they attained the age of thirty. It is no derogation from that glorious volume to say, that it is by no means constructed as a primer for infant schools : nor does the outcry against withholding the whole Bible from children, even those Catholic children who, of course, in the Protestant version, are unwilling to receive it, attract any complacency from the fact that, until of late, the same body has opposed itself to the dissemination of the Bible among adults, unless it were accompanied by the Prayer-book, on account of the inability of unlearned adults to comprehend the mysteries of the holy volume.
“On a recent occasion, a number of children were refused the rite of confirmation, deemed so important by the Established Church, because they had only been taught their duty to God and their neighbour. As if that which Christ declares to be the summary of human duty was worthless compared with the parroted answers of the Catechism on sacramental mysteries, in a candidate for admission into the Church of England. Perhaps, in the case to which I allude, it was not merely on their own account that the children were disgraced, but an opportunity was taken thereby of enforcing ecclesiastical discipline, and of preaching one doctrine which the church holds more dear than most doctrines—that of
the subserviency of the inferior grades of the clergy to their ecclesiastical superiors.
“ Praying for the dead is a heresy which the church has deemed it needful in one instance to encounter, and that by the aid of an authority which it would have well become a civilized country long since to have abolished. Appeal has been made to the preposterous anomaly of a court sitting in judgment on the well being of the souls of individuals. But if an object of attack was to be found, surely this is the last that should have been selected. So much the impulse of nature is prayer for the souls of the departed, that it has almost always found its way into practical religion, even amongst those who have repudiated it in the form of doctrine. There seems no reason why prayer should not be offered for the dead as well as for the living. If it be said, that their state is fixed by the Deity, what is there, if we allow the divine prescience and universal providence, that is not fixed by Him? What can we ask for the living, that is not as certain in His purpose and plan as any thing that we can ask for the dead? But from the church itself the incongruity is curious, possessing as it does, in its monumental riches, so many inscriptions to the same effect, some of them appended to the tombs of its own bishops, and others conspicuous over the entrances and halls of its colleges, which very colleges, with their ample endowments, were raised and bequeathed to the public on the tenure that the souls of their founders should be prayed for through all succeeding generations !
“ The manner in which two prelates of the Established Church have been lately dealt with, has occupied too large a portion of the public attention for it to be passed over in silence : I mean the Bishops of Durham and of Norwich-the vituperations which they have drawn upon themselves from a part of the public press, and the formal notice taken by their own clergy, unaccustomed, assuredly, to call their bishops to account—for merely having given, or being supposed to have given, their names and subscriptions to a volume of practical and moral sermons, by an individual of a dissenting community and of Unitarian opinions. Now proceedings of this description really lead to the destruction of all the civilities and courtesies of life. As to being committed to an author's opinion by such subscription, the idea is too absurd, I apprehend, for any body to discuss in earnest. The practice has been much too common for any such notion to be possible: and it is one mark of this being a factitious zeal, rather than a real jealousy about doctrinal truth, that such things have been done over and over again, without any one thinking of blame, or of comment, till very lately indeed. I do not allude to any thing so far back as fifty years ago, or to the list of prelates and ecclesiastical dignitaries that ap. pear in the list of subscribers to the publications of Dr. Lardner, with all the heresies which those publications contained; but it is only six or seven years since the writings of another dissenter, I mean of the late Robert Hall, were published, having also two bishops in the list of subscribers, one of them in a most important station, the head of our governmental religious institution in the East Indies ; and their names backed by those of a number of clergymen, and of fellows and heads of colleges ; although his works contain more strong and vigorous rebukes and denunciations of the Church of England, than can ever be thought likely to come from so mild and moderate a pen as that of Mr. Turner, of Newcastle.
“ One of the most oddly timed and intrepidly chosen topics of vituperation, is that of the statement, by men of science, of geological facts and their obvious inferences. Clerical journalists, and their political allies, forget that if a stand was to have been made for the physical philosophy of Moses, it should have been made on the publication of the Principia, and the brand affixed on Sir Isaac Newton. They forget that the stand actually was made, in the case of Galileo. And they rant and rave about floods and fossils, as wildly as if Science were still subject to the dictation of priests, and as fiercely as if, instead of only ignorantly calumniating for the purpose of social injury, they could command the racks and dungeons of the Inquisition. The instinctive hatred to Science of systems which · love darkness rather than light,' as the means of regaining or perpetuating their own domination, has rarely been more strikingly exemplified."--p. 13.
The Establishment is orderly and decorous only so long as she is not in fear; only so long as no selfish interest is in danger. She speaks disdainfully of the vulgar and fierce temper of Dissent; and appeals to the lowest passions of her own mobs to serve her own sectarian purposes. She preaches Order so long as her privileges are not in peril; and she preaches Fanaticism and Violence whenever religious liberty takes a direction that does not lead to her door. In short, the sole use of Order is to keep her undisturbed. Nothing of this has escaped our author's remarkable powers of observation.
“And these different topics have come before the public in the language of insolence and fierce rebuke; in expressions tending to wound the feelings, and to injure the character; with a recklessness that dares to sit in judgment upon men's hearts and consciences; that speaks familiarly and profanely of their spiritual and eternal condition; and, while it denounces their prospects in heaven, cuts the bonds of good neighbourhood on earth. Animosities are excited, that spread from parish to parish, over the whole face of the land, and the tendency of which is to bring on a fierce collision, that would end, if apparently it were to end according to the wishes of those who endeavour to excite the strife, in hurrying all honest men out of the land. And this commotion, this movement in the great dormitory, as an Established Church usually is, has not arisen like the natural progress of fanaticism from the ignorant multitude. It has not come upward from the many. It has not been a demonstration on the part of those who had more zeal than knowledge, and whose earnestness might be supposed sometimes to show itself in a way that would not be approved by their more intelligent teachers. It is not a spontaneous movement of zeal in the mem