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word. Alas ! how easily did the idea of a Being who can decree what He pleases, who can make right wrong and wrong right by choosing it, who may outrage the conscience in man which He has created to bear witness of what He is and of what Man, His image, is intended to be,-mingle itself with a faith so contradictory of it! How easily in an age of energy and action could the bravest deeds, the most passionate devotion to a cause, blend with cruel judgments and fanatical exclusiveness, which hide the good from one set of party-historians, and are glorified by it in the eyes of another! But how much more easily, when the age of action and energy has passed away, and an age of speculation has begun, does the theory of a Will which arranges Punishment, Satisfaction, Salvation, according to its pleasure, of a Justice which means only the demand for Vengeance, of a Mercy which means only the exemption of certain persons from that demand, take the place of belief in a God who so loves the world as to give His Son for it! How easily do those records, wherein Puritan divinity is so rich, of souls struggling with the Spirit of Evil and taking refuge from his suggestions, and from their own weakness and despair, in a Love of which they could not sound the depths and to which no external acts or internal feelings of theirs could the least entitle them-records full of truth and living power, however sense and Spirit, physical disease and torments of the conscience may sometimes be confounded in
them-adjust themselves to a system which attributes the acts and purposes of the Tempter and Destroyer to the Father of Lights !
I know well how much there is and always has been in the roughest, hardest Calvinism which fights against these conclusions and practically triumphs over them. God forbid that I should hold any human being tied to them by any logical necessity, that I should not welcome his indignant repudiation of them, that I should not thank him for calling me a maligner, and for affirming that nothing like what I have set down is the faith of him or of his fathers. But I do know also, and you know, that thousands of men and women, in your land and in ours, regard this as the only consistent explanation of the dogmas which they have been taught, of that which they suppose to be the teaching of the Bible. They think that we are practising a cheat upon ourselves, that we are using some mystical artifices to evade plain texts and literal history, if we profess to hold by the Scriptures and yet not to adopt this view of the divine sovereignty. We may hide it from ourselves as we will, we may cast the burden upon whom we will, but this is the cause which is driving our sons to infidelity and our daughters to Rome. The spectre from which they are flying is a God whom they cannot trust and cannot love. We may try to cure symptoms by producing evidences of Christianity, or by exposing superstition. But we shall find that we have not reached the
root of the disease and that it will always be appearing in new forms. Have we a Gospel for men, for all men ? Is it a Gospel that God's will is a will to all Good, a will to deliver them from all Evil? Is it a Gospel that He has reconciled the world unto Himself? Is it this absolutely, or this with a multitude of reservations, explanations, contradictions? Such questions must be asked by those who are desirous of restoring faith among the upper and middle classes, or of lifting the lower out of the pit into which we have allowed them to sink. If they cannot be answered, the gentler and feminine spirits will try what help they can get from the Pope; the speculative will become Pantheists; the People will become Atheists.
It is more than twenty years since a book of yours brought home to my mind the conviction that no Gospel but this can be of any use to the world, and that the Gospel of Jesus Christ is such a one. From that time I ceased to wish for refined explanations of the Catholic Creeds. They became to me the clearest explanations I could find of man's relation to God, the fullest declaration of that Name which I felt that all creatures were desiring to know. I ceased, also, to desire refined explanations of the Four Gospels and the Epistles. The first, taken as they stand, declare, it seems to me, the existence of a Kingdom of Heaven which is near us all. The last shew how that Kingdom of Heaven established itself on this earth of ours—Churches of Jews and
Gentiles being called out as witnesses of it, and the Jewish nation perishing that it might be revealed in its fulness and unity as the ground of modern Society. In proportion as I grew strong in this conviction, I became more deeply thankful for the testimony which Protestantism has borne for the truth that the Universal Church stands only on Christ, and that a perfect sacrifice has been offered and accepted once for all. At the same time I have felt a strong sympathy with those who say that Protestants do not recognise, as they ought, in their thoughts and in their worship, the truth that all prayer is grounded on that finished sacrifice, and that it becomes an irreverent effort to change the divine Will, not an earnest entreaty that it may be done on earth as it is in Heaven,—the expression of divided, contradictory, individual wishes, not the utterance of a body the distinct members of which are possessed with one Spirit, when it loses its connexion with Sacrifice, or when any other notion of Sacrifice is substituted for that of a Son yielding Himself to a Father in whom He delights..
These thoughts have reference chiefly to the New Testament. But the conviction has been fixing itself deeply in my mind that the Old Testament too ought to be read much more simply and according to the letter than we are used to read it, that we have not made its application to our individual cases more clear by overlooking its obvious national characteristics ; that if we had given heed to them
we should have found an interpretation of some of the greatest difficulties in history and in the condition of the world around us. This opinion is strangely opposed to that which is common among the philosophical thinkers of our day. It sets me in direct opposition to those writers, in this country and America, who make it their business to copy German models, though it does not authorize me to refuse any help from German learning when it comes within my reach, or to pronounce sentence upon a nation with which I am most imperfectly acquainted, or to generalize under one name Theologians who I suppose exhibit as many varieties of opinion, and are scattered through as many schools, as our own.
Many of my conclusions may differ widely from those into which you have been led : I should be grieved to make you responsible for them. But if I have tried in these Sermons to shew that the story of the Prophets and Kings of the Old Testament is as directly applicable to the modern world as any Covenanter ever dreamed,—but that it is applicable, because it is a continual witness for a God of Righteousness, not only against idolatry but against that notion of a mere Sovereign Baal or Bel which underlies all idolatry, all tyranny, all immorality ;-I may claim you as their spiritual progenitor. You will see that they do bear a witness, though a feeble one, for a truth upon the acknowledgment of which I believe the well being of your land, and of ours,