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“ As far as the principle on which Archbishop Laud and his followers acted went to re-actuate the idea of the church, as a coordinate and living power by right of Christ's institution and express promise, I go along with them; but I soon discover that by the church they meant the clergy, the hierarchy exclusively, and then I fly off from them in a tangent.
“For it is this very interpretation of the church, that, according to my conviction, constituted the first and fundamental apostasy; and I hold it for one of the greatest mistakes of our polemic divines, in their controversies with the Romanists, that they trace all the corruptions of the gospel faith to the Papacy.”—COLERIDGE. Literary Remains, vol. iii. p. 386.
THE Sermons contained in this volume will be found, I hope, to be in agreement with its title ; although having been written separately, and not having been intended to form together a systematic work, they were not capable of making any regular whole. They were all preached in the chapel of Rugby School, with the exception of the XXII, and of the last three in the volume; and of those three, one was preached at Ambleside, another in the parish church at Rugby, and the third, (the XXXIXh) was written for a congregation in Westmorland, but was in fact never preached at all.
Amongst the helps of Christian life, the highest place is due to the Christian church and its ordinances. Several sermons will be
found dwelling upon this point; and the concluding sermon considers the church in its complete development; that is, when perfectly identified with the State. I venture to call the reader's attention to this, because I believe that I have been greatly misunderstood with respect to my estimate of the Christian church, as distinguished from the Christian religion. I agree so far with those, from whom I in other things most widely differ, that I hold the revival of the church of Christ in its full perfection, to be the one great end to which all our efforts should be directed. This is with me no new belief, but one which I have entertained for many years. It was impressed most strongly upon me, as it appears to have been upon others, by the remarkable state of affairs and of opinions which we witnessed in this country about nine or ten years ago ; and every thing since that time has confirmed it in my mind more and more.
Others, according to their own statement, received the same impression from the phenomena of the same period. But the movement had begun earlier ; nor should I object to call it, as they do, a movement towards “something deeper and truer than satisfied the last cen
tury."* It began, I suppose, in the last ten years of the last century, and has ever since been working onwards, though for a long time slowly and secretly, and with no distinctly marked direction. But still, in philosophy and general literature, there have been sufficient proofs that the pendulum, which for nearly two hundred years had been swinging one way, was now beginning to swing back again; and as its last oscillation brought it far from the true centre, so it may be, that its present impulse may be no less in excess, and thus may bring on again, in after ages, another corresponding reaction.
Now if it be asked what, setting aside the metaphor, are the two points between which mankind has been thus moving to and fro; and what are the tendencies in us which, thus alternately predominating, give so different a character to different periods of the human history; the answer is not easy to be given summarily, for the generalization which it requires is almost beyond the compass of the human mind. Several phenomena appear in each period, and it would be easy to give any one
* See Mr. Newman's Letter to Dr. Jelf, p. 27.