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hostile and dangerous neighbour, the centre of an active revolutionary propaganda, aiming at the overthrow of all existing authorities and institutions. Her philosophers and theologians are urgently pressing upon all nations the exchange of their old laws and customs for their own newly-discovered liberties. New creeds are being manufactured and exported in as great numbers as ever were new constitutions in the days of the first Republic. Bibles, more or less mutilated, or more or less inspired; Christian systems, with or without a Christ; Religions, with or without a God, are offered in rich variety, to suit, as their authors would say, the “subjectivities” of all; accompanied always with glorious promises of liberty from all the restraints of old-fashioned Christianity ; and a happy equality and fraternity of all creeds and opinions, upon the broad basis that every man's “consciousness” is his only guide; that what every man thinks to be true, is the truth for him ; and that, after all, it is no matter what we believe, provided only that we believe that it is no matter.
Unhappily, these “great swelling words " have found but too many willing listeners among us. The extent to which this neologian scepticism has influenced not only our English theology, but our English literature generally, is really startling. From the chairs of our professors, from the pulpits of our preachers, in the writings of our most influential divines, and perhaps a surer and a more startling sign than all—in the pages of our most popular reviews and novels, infidelity, open and undisguised, is bitterly assailing, or contemptuously rejecting, all that Christians hold most dear and sacred.
It seems to have come once more to be taken for granted,” as it was in the days of Butler, “by many persons, that Christianity is not so much as a subject of inquiry; but that it is now at length discovered to be fictitious, and accordingly they treat it as if in the present age this were an agreed point among all people of discernment:" *
The infidelity however of Butler's times, laboured under one great disadvantage, from which that of ours is free, -it uttered itself in plain, intelligible English, and was accordingly soon estimated exactly at its proper worth. Our modern infidelity, on the contrary, has the advantage of being able to wrap up its sayings in all the oracular obscurity of a language only half intelligible, and therefore very imposing to its English disciples. Whoever has been compelled to study the sceptical literature of our day, must be painfully familiar with that peculiar Anglo-German style, which the writers of that school especially affect. He remembers only too well the “Petrine stand point," and the “ Johanine idiosyncracy,” and“ the Pauline subjectivity;"" the I and the not I;" the “ nichts" and the “sein;" the “me without the thee;" “ the personified idea of the personality;" “ the evolution of the concrete," and all the rest of that dreary jargon of second-hand German metaphysics which gives an air of such amazing profundity to the shallowest thoughts of the shallowest of our modern smatterers in Atheism, but which makes the plain English reader wish that these writers had contented themselves with conspiring against our religion without also conspiring against our language.
* Preface to Butler's Analogy. ·
He will remember too the profoundly respectful references to Strauss and Hegel and Fichte and Fuerbach, and the slavish deference with which our English scoffers at the reasoning of Paul or the philosophy of Jolin accept the last guess of the last Tübingen pedant, who perhaps by the time they have translated and published it as the great discovery of the day, which is to annihilate Christianity, has just himself discovered that it was a mistake, but has made a new discovery which will serve as well. All this is proof, plain and unmistakable enough, of the extent to which, at this moment, the English mind has been subjected to that of Germany, and goes far to justify the dislike and the fear with which many English Christians regard the very name of German Theology.
There are, however, two considerations which it seems to me ought to moderate our estimate of the danger which threatens us from the writers of this school. One is, that its rapid rise and progress in this country is not altogether owing to its own inherent strength. The Tractarian movement which preceded it was essentially a revolutionary movement in religion. Its leaders found it necessary, in order to establish the authority the Church Rome, to overthrow the authority of Scripture. Before men trained to regard holy writ as their sufficient rule of faith, could be induced to substitute for it the decision of an infallible church, they must have been first brought to regard it as fallible and untrustworthy. To effect this, all the objections against the authenticity and sufficiency of Scripture that Infidelity or Romanism had ever devised, were earnestly pressed on their hearers by the Tractarian teachers, in the hope that, terrified with the uncertainty of Scripture, they might take refuge in the infallibility of Rome. With many they succeeded; with many more they failed. There were not a few of their hearers who learned but half the lesson they would have taught them — learned to doubt and despise Scripture, but not to respect or believe in the Council of Trent. On such minds the teachings of the new German philosophy fell like seed upon a soil carefully prepared for its reception. For a philosophy which proclaims the absolute indifference of all forms of belief, as only so many phases of the human consciousness, gives to the sceptic the same repose that a living, infallible authority gives to the credulous ; for whether the oracle dictates to us with infallible certainty the true faith, or assures us that it is infallibly certain that there is no such thing as a true faith, the mind is equally freed from all the pain and difficulty of searching after truth.
No wonder, then, that a philosophy which taught this, should have found ready acceptance in minds exhausted with the strife of recent controversy, and longing for repose. No wonder that its imposing air of learning, and its promises of intellectual freedom soon superseded the uncongenial and un-English teachings of the Tractarian school. And no wonder that it should become rapidly popular in a country more than any other rent with divisions and harassed with religious strife, just as a foreign invader makes an easy conquest of a kingdom weakened and distracted by civil war. But may we not hope that as in many such foreign invasions, so in this, the presence of the common foe may do much to heal the strifes and to unite the differing parties of the invaded realm, and that
Christians ceasing for a time to contend with Christians, may learn to wage war upon the enemies of Christianity ? May we not hope, too, that the very efforts to defend our faith, may help us to a deeper and truer knowledge of it? It has not been in times of slothful peace, but in times of active controversy, that the study of Scripture has best thriven, and the doctrines of the Church been most clearly defined. Let us hope that it will be so still. Let us hope that this last assault upon the citadel of truth may result only in the demolition of the suburbs of human systems and opinions which have grown up around it in the long years
and that when the din and the dust of the strife shall have passed away, the true defences, the walls of the fortress, shall be seen standing out more clearly visible, more easily defensible than ever.
There is another reason, too, why we may hope that this will be the case. Germany herself has been the scene of a powerful reaction against the infidel philosophy to which she has given birth. The same source which supplied the bane is now largely supplying the antidote. Those who know of German theology only in its anti-Christian aspect, are little aware of the extent to which Christianity, pure and scriptural, is reviving in her schools; or of the number of learned and able defenders of the faith which she has already given to Christendom. The clerical reader of this work, if such there should be, will probably not need to be reminded of his obligations to Stier and Hengstenburgh, to Baumgarten and Olshausen. But there may be those who read these names for the first time; who may not know that among these, and many others such as these, are to be found as