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scorn, in his unhealthy egotism and half-conscious affectation; one star-glance of his Muse will cast a redeeming light over all that: but, if we see him draggling in the very mire the pinions of that very Muse, and heaping foul ashes on her head, how can we pardon him? We may have a certain sympathy with him, as we mark his regal port, though his aspect and fierce demeanor seem to speak defiance to God and man; but we can not pardon him when we see him, a vile toad, squat at the ear of youth and purity, instilling foul poison. We may own a grandeur in Cain, and have a word to say even for the Vision of Judgment, but Don Juan must be flung upon the dunghill. We never can think of the state of the Roman Empire in its decline, without seeming to trace certain analogies between its state and that of Europe in the present day : one at least of the great causes which then enervated the race, and fitted it to be trodden in the dust by the strong men of the North, is now in operation over Europe. And if Atheism and Mammon once do their work, the judgments of God may again awaken to burn up a polluted and enfeebled people! When the carcass of a nation lies dead, tainting the solar system, there will not want lightnings to kindle its funeral pyre!
Such are the dangers which threaten us, and such the power to oppose them. Have we yet another hope ?
We have but a few words to add. We shall consider it made good in the foregoing pages, that Christianity still retains power to breathe a healing balm into social and individual life: and we shall now endeavor briefly to indicate in what precise position it stands, and how it is capable, as in every age, of drawing around it all the real enlightenment of the time, and going on ever to nobler manifestation and wider conquest.
We have already had occasion to refer to the remark of Goethe, that “thought widens but lames;" that it is a natural law and tendency that the intensity of belief be in an inverse ratio to its range. If we examine well the religious phenomena of the middle ages, we will find them characterized indeed by strength: but it was a strength that owed much to narrowness on the one hand, and superstition on the other. History has now, so to speak, lifted the roof from each nation and from each generation, showing the many families that dwell under the common blue, the many generations within one cycle of time; astronomy has opened up the heavens around the arrogating earth, and compelled it to dwindle from the central sun of the universe, with all the orbs circling round it, to a puny and planetary ball: the Reformation shattered the vast and icy crystallization of Popery, and since then the tongue of contro versy has never been silent; men must now have a far wider range of ideas than in former ages. A proportionate lessening of intensity is the necessary result. Is it, however, to be impossible that the faith of a narrow intensity may be exchanged for that of an intelligent knowledge, which difference can no longer startle, and novelty no longer imperil ? that it attain a noble and manly composure, and a calmness of spiritual strength, which can distinguish between opinions and opinions, so as not to condemn good with bad, and between opinions and men, so as to tolerate and love the one, while opposing and exterminating the other ? To mourn over the old intensity is weak; to recoil into skepticism and the universal unsoldering of belief, is a cowardly and feeble proceeding: to be religious without superstition, to be enlightened yet not infidel, is at present the part of a true man, It may at length be possible for Faith and Philosophy to form an alliance on such terms as these.
Indecision and a spurious toleration are reigning temptations of the day. “As far," says Coleridge, “as opinions and not motives, principles and not men, are concerned, I neither am tolerant, nor wish to be regarded as such.” “That which doth not withstand, hath itself no standing-place.” And again, quoting from Leighton “Toleration is an herb of spontaneous growth in the soil of indifference; but the weed has none of the virtues of the medicinal plant reared by humility in the garden of zeal.” We can not too carefully remember that, if controversy is the sign of an imperfect development or distempered action of life, indifference, whether in philosophy or religion, is death. If we might venture to trace the history of toleration in modern European progress, we should say that it had come through two stages, and might now be hoped to be entering on the third. First, there was the deep and universal sleep of Paganism; the throne of toleration stood immovable
under the canopy of the ancient night. Then, for long ages, there continued the reign of intolerance; and, with all its gloom, we hail this new phenomenon as the indication of a mighty advancement made by the human mind, as a truth of the implantation in the heart and intellect of the race of the conviction that belief was important enough to be measured against the physical life: in this one consideration, we find power to turn into a beacon of promise every fire which persecution has lighted since the commencement of the Christian era. A third and noblest epoch is still possible. It is that during which truth shall have absolutely and forever relinquished the ministry of pain, and shall yet continue to be loved and followed with devotion equal to that of the olden time, when Earnestness and Intolerance, like two austere Spartan kings, exercised joint sovereignty. It is one great hope of our age that this era can now be inaugurated : and one great peril that, shaking itself free of the middle-age intolerance, it lapse into that indifference to all spiritual things which Christianity at first dispelled. It is at present the peculiar and urgent duty of every brave man to witness to the unity, the definite clearness, the indestructible life, the perpetual value of truth: to manifest his unwavering conviction that, though a thousand arrows fly wide, the mark is stable and eternal; that, though every voice of a discord, like that in the cave of Æolus, proclaim that truth is with it, truth itself is immovable and immortal, and would be nowise differently effected, though all the languages of men were blended to express it in one indivisible tone. And it is not to be disguised that the attitude of Christianity has in no age been that of compromise. It has been like a fiery sword, going up and down among the nations, searching, separating, and startling. It has never striven to show the similarity of error to truth, or to attempt a patchwork alliance between them. Any such attempt must come to nought; and it should be seriously laid to heart by all how deadly is the injury which may be inflicted by erring friendship, or a rash zeal that can not wait. There have been many arguments adduced to prove that Judas, in coming to the Pharisees to bargain for the betrayal of his Lord, might not actually intend His death; that it is a possibility his motive was but to force on the man. ifestation of the kingdom of Jesus : and whether we are convinced by such arguments or no, they contain profound sug. gestion for as of these latter ages. Let us beware how we serve the Lord, even with a kiss !
It is not difficult, we think, to point to the precise tower of the strength of Christianity, to that position whose abandonment is the final yielding up of the victory. There is in the present day a vast deal of confounding babble about book revelations, historical evidence, and so on. We must look for some source of calming and ordering light to impart coherence and definiteness to our ideas of revelation, inspiration, and all kindred subjects. We find such a source, and we reach the ultimate fortress of Christian evidence, when we consider what, strictly speaking, the Christian Revelation is. It is the Revelation of a Person: it is the manifestation of Jesus Christ. All Revelation before His advent is the radiance that heralds the dawn: all Revelation after His advent is the shedding on the world of the risen Light. Let us once stand in His audience in Judea, once believe that He raises the dead, that He is from God, and all becomes clear. Out of His lips I hear the words, “The Scriptures can not be broken :" the words are clearly distinguished; there is no variety of reading; history hears the words. What must I say on this? What He means by Scripture is an open question ; but that, if what He does intend can be broken, His word is broken with it, can not be