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backsliding of the Church. 'I write of Quakers,' he says, “but I write to Church people.
I will quote a passage from the Prophets and Kings, partly because of its extreme beauty, but chiefly because it explains, more than any other word could do, this simple and clear position as to the relations of Church and State.
We have been hearing of a Vision. Does that word sound as if it belonged to times which we have left far behind, as if it pointed to something fantastical and incredible? Oh! if there were no such visions, brethren, what an utterly dark and weary and unintelligible place this world would be! How completely we should be given up to the emptiest phantoms, to the basest worship of phantoms! What mere shows and mockeries would the state and ceremonial of kings, the debates of legislators, the yearnings and struggles of people, become! How truly would the earth be what it seemed to the worn-out misanthropical libertine,' a stage, and all the men and women merely players; ' a thousand times we have been all tempted to think it so. The same painted scenery, the same shifting pageants, the same unreal words spoken through different masks by counterfeit voices, the same plots which seem never to be unravelled : what does it all mean? How do men endure the ceaseless change, the dull monotony? Satirists and keen observers of the world's follies have asked this question again and again. The best man may often doubt what he should reply. But he hears a voice saying to him, “Try to be true to thyself; resist the powers whiclı are tempting thee to go through thy acts, common or sacred, as if thou wert a mere machine; hold fast thy faith that God is, and is working, when thou seest least of this working, and when the world seems most to be going on without Him; assure thyself that there is an order in the universe when all its movements seem most disorderly. So will the things around thee by degrees acquire a meaning and a purpose. Those divine services and sacraments which have partaken of their insincerity, which have become shadows like them, will show thee what a truth and substance lies behind them. In English temples thou mayest hear · Holy, holy, holy, Lord God of Hosts,' resounding from the lips of seraphim. In them thou mayest know that thou art in the midst of a company of angels and archangels and just men made perfect; nay, that thou art in the presence of Jesus, the Mediator of the new covenant, and of God, the Judge of all. And if the sense of that presence awaken all the consciousness of thine own evil, and of the evil of the people among whom thou dwellest, the taste of that sacrifice, which was once offered for thee and for all the world, will purge thine iniquity. When that divine love has kindled thy flagging and perishing thoughts and hopes, thou mayest learn that God can use thee to bear the tidings of His love and righteousness to a sense-bound land that is bowing to silver and gold, to horses and chariots. And if there should come a convulsion in that land, such as neither thou nor thy fathers have known, be sure that it signifies the removal of such things as can be shaken, that those things which cannot be shaken
Now, if his position is so simple and so orthodox as it appears to be—and I think the fact cannot be disputed-how is it that Mr. Maurice's mental and doctrinal standpoint appeared so subtle and obscure ? how was it that he seemed to be constantly contradicting and disappointing the expectations of simple-minded people ? and how is it that this man, who was by every possibility of expression the most orthodox of Churchmen and the most unswerving of believers in the inspiration of the Bible, should bave left his name as a by-word among a large and varied class of Church people, for a monster of heresy and misbelief ? The question seems to me full of interest both as it relates to peculiarities of character and of the times, and illustrates some traits of our common nature which are alike in all times.
2 Prophets and Kings, p. 234.
Some reflection on Mr. Maurice's principle of interpretation of Scripture, if so simple a process can be called by such a name, will I think assist us in this perplexity. His faith in the letter of Scripture was entire. If the Bible shrank from difficulties,' he said, if it had not a stronger evidence in itself than all the ingenuity of apologists could supply, it was not the book which I took it to be, it had not the power for which I gave it credit. The absence of all difficulty, the ease with which obstacles apparently insurmountable are overcome, give the reader at first a sense of amused surprise, as though some ingenious casuistry or legerdemain was at work; but this is only because we are so unused to his plain and simple principles. We are so accustomed to difficulties and apologies and German criticism and to etymological niceties and ethnological refinements, that when all our difficulties vanish before the simple story of a life like our own; when the record is revealed to us as being nothing but the history of struggles and failures, sins and repentances, of men and women and people like ourselves, and of the clear and still clearer shining of a light into their hearts and lives by which the mysteries of time and of the future appear, if not altogether vanquished and brought to daught, yet, at least, as ranging themselves on the side of righteousness and development, and not of anarchy and despair ; when, instead of the elaborate exegesis we expected, we hear only the charmed rhythm of this divine message through page of story, and prophet's cry, and psalmist's song—we can hardly credit that our trouble has been in such sort laid to rest. And, as a matter of fact, it is certain that this method of interpretation staggered the so-called religious world. Indeed, to please this world it is not enough that you profess your belief that the Bible is inspired; this will serve you little, unless you add your conviction that the religious world is inspired in its interpretation of it. This is true of all times; but a wonderful change has passed over the religious world of England since Mr. Maurice took orders fifty years ago. It requires some effort to realise the position of those days: so many questions have been set at rest, so many outworks abandoned, so many crises which were to bave ruined the Church and religion safely passed through. The whole power of the Church, and indeed of the religious world, was in the hands of the Evangelical party, a party only just entering on its decadence. The triumphs and spiritual victories of this great and missionary section of the Church were fresh in men's minds. The mental atmosphere was redolent with the names of such men as Simeon, Venn, and Romaine. The invariable result had occurred. The leaders of thought being removed, their followers adopted their formulas and, like the Israelites with the ark at Eben-ezer, supposed, because of their adherence to these formulas, that God was still in the camp. The religious patronage of the country and the revenue of the religious societies was in their hands, and its distribution was decided, and the thought and opinions of the congregations guided, by the so-called religious newspapers. Now a man who believed that God's voice was heard not in formulas and systems, not in opinions and conclusions, but in struggles and questionings and glimpses of light,' could not expect much appreciation from excellent and formal people trained and drilled in a system like this. His interpretation of Scripture was to them naught, for they recognised in it none of their familiar phrases. To many of these people, to attempt to see two sides of a question is not only perplexing, it is positively wicked; to endeavour to discover the particle of truth which exists in your opponent's opinion is to pander to the Devil himself. The best and most charitable of these people would say, 'I cannot understand him ;' and no wonder, for it is impossible to give the reader, who is unacquainted with his character, any just idea of the exquisite balance of Mr. Maurice's mind. If his whole life and writings failed to give it to so many thousands of his fellow-countrymen, it would be ridiculous to attempt it here. All I can do, it seems to me, is to insist as often as possible on this one point, that the distinguishing quality he possessed and the quality which prevented his position from being understood and his influence felt, which caused him to be suspected of casuistry and rejected as obscure and unintelligible, was simply and solely this exquisite balance of mind and thought.
But there were other forces which, while they could not cause this estrangement, yet strengthened and perpetuated it when caused. One of these was Mr. Maurice's connection with what was called, then as now, Christian Socialism. I shall allude very briefly to this. I would rather hope that some of those men, and they are many, now in orders in the English Church, who are carrying on his work under the influence of his spirit, and who look upon him as the inspirer and guide of their cause, will give us some account of the result of his connection with it. I will only say that the quality I bave mentioned, a balanced intellect and a consequent wisdom superior to all those who worked with him, appears to me most prominent in this phase of his work. In those days, however, of continental revolution and of political excitement, a man who had actually converted some Chartists, and was known to be intimately associated with intelligent artisans, 'naturally all atheists, you know,' was regarded in many circles with horror. Nothing was too bad to believe of such a one. The clergy would say to younger men, with that recklessness of speech which is not confined to parsons, 'Has no belief in the Atonement, you know'-an assertion about equivalent to denying to St. Paul any belief in the doctrine of Justification by Faith.
It is almost impossible at the present day to realise the anonymous and irresponsible tyranny wielded by the religious newspapers at the time of which we are speaking. Colonel Maurice contrasts the power of this tyranny in 1842–6, when the Record won its great victory over Bishop Blomfield, and the bishop, to escape the storm, actually had to abandon all those clergy who had followed his advice, and to approve of those who had refused to obey him, with its weakness in 1860, when in response to its demand that Bishop Tait should resist Mr. Maurice's appointment to St. Peter's, Vere Street, only twenty of the London clergy signed the address to the bishop, against three hundred and thirty-two who signed the counter-address to Mr. Maurice. Mr. Maurice's antagonism to the “immoral and godless domination of anonymous religious journalism ’ bad been consistent, determined, and uncompromising from the beginning of his career; a great part of his unpopularity with Church people was earned in this single-handed combat with an impalpable malific power, and to him in great measure is to be attributed its fall. It would be necessary to study the files of these forgotten instruments of bigotry to understand the position truly, but this were a task before which even German conscientiousness and enterprise might well quail.
It was the chivalrous instinct which saw injustice in ex parte statements of an opponent's position wbich first roused his indignation against the religious newspapers, and it was this same habit of Mr. Maurice's mind which was a fertile source of misunderstanding between himself and the so-called religious world. To go out of your way to point out what truth there may be in the position of a man whom you firmly believe to be fighting against truth, seems to many people to be treason against the truth itself. When the honest acceptance of the Articles was in question, and an attempt was being made at Oxford to vindicate the act of subscription from an open avowal of dishonesty, to find the strong advocate of subscription, in the literal and plain sense, openly siding with the offender was no doubt puzzling to many simple people; and when Mr. Maurice approved the Dissenters' Chapels Bill, which appeared to confirm the possession of endowments to those who had departed from the faith in support of which such endowments had been bequeathed, many good and formal people who never saw below the crust of things, and to whom no distinction ever occurred between the eternal verities on which their faith stands, and the points which must receive a different solution in each different age,' a distinction vital to Mr. Maurice, were inclined to think his conduct disingenuous. Mr. Maurice did not accept the Articles and formularies as a particular righteous creed admirably expressed in language by the English Reformers, although he believed that the men of the sixteenth century were far more
capable of such a task than those of the nineteenth; he accepted them as the plain testimony to the truth of an 'ever-living and acting spirit of righteousness,' which had ever taught the Church, and was still teaching her in his own day. He was apparently open to the retort that after all it was only Mr. Maurice's own opinion which he advocated, just as it was the opinion of other people which he opposed, but in his own mind he escaped this dilemma. "For me to assume that I am right or you are wrong,' he wrote to Mr. Strachey, ‘in the way of putting down idolatry or any form of error is hateful and immoral, confusing ends and means, leading to the most melancholy consequences to the mind of the individual and of the country, consequences which are every day making themselves manifest.
The exquisite acuteness of his intellectual perceptions,' to use Mr. Ludlow's words, was indeed always leading him to perceive distinctions which were quite imperceptible to ordinary minds; but it would be the very greatest of mistakes to suppose that there was in Mr. Maurice anything of the tolerant laissez faire of the worldlyminded statesman or divine, to whom life and religion are a fine art. On the contrary, an almost painful earnestness pervades his language at every crisis, and such crises were chronic, of religious matters in his time.
All Christian liberty, all manly divinity, and I believe all honesty of purpose, is in peril if one step be taken in this course, he writes on one occasion.
To lie down and sleep till the fates accomplish their own purposes, which it seems impossible that we can promote, and very likely that we may hinder, is the inference which the devil has whispered to every one a thousand times, and which most of us have obeyed till a louder whisper has awakened us. Oh, there is nothing so emasculating as the atmosphere of Eclecticism! who that has dwelt in it has not longed for the keen mountain' misty air of Calvinism, or anything, however biting, that would stir him to action ?
he writes again. In 1843 he writes this remarkable sentence to Archdeacon Hare:
I have even thought of addressing a letter to him (Lord Ashley) on the fearful danger of making Tractarians, and Romanists too, by these violent efforts of suppressing them. But I scarcely dare meddle with such subjects; they are too exacting, and I sometimes think with trembling that that way madness lies. Nothing goes nearer to take away one's senses than the clatter of tongues, when you feel everyone is wrong, and know that if you tried to set them right you would most likely be as wrong as any. It would not be so if one had learnt how to keep sabbath days in the midst of the world's din.
This intense earnestness, this terror of, and determination to grapple with, erroneous opinion, seems indeed at times almost inconsistent with the equally intense faith in the living and acting Spirit that was guiding the world. There are in the world two principles of action--I had almost said of culture—that of Luther and that of Erasmus. I mention these two names, so often used in this connection,