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and not by a mental process ?—for only was standing still.
To be obeyers of an idea can carry the sense of its own God themselves, and inspired leaders of certainty along with it, not an imagina- others to obedience and good life, did
, tion. To make them certain of the not make Abraham and Moses metatruth of what was revealed to them, a physicians, or Joshua a natural philoreasoning process came in; they had to sopher. His revelation no more changed rely on the testimony of a sign, and the speculative opinions of cach prophet, (above all) on the testimony of their than it changed his temperament or own conscience, that they were_good style. The wrathful Elisha required men, and spoke for God's sake. Either the natural sedative of music, before he testimony was incomplete without the could be the messenger of good fortune other. Even the good prophet needed .
to Jehoram. The high-bred Isaiah for his message the confirmation of a and Nahum have the style proper to sign ; but the bad prophet, the utterer their condition, and the rustic Ezekiel of an immoral doctrine, had no certainty and Amos the style proper to theirs. for his doctrine, no truth in it, even We are not therefore bound to
heed though he confirmed it by a sign. This, to the speculative opinions of this or that the testimony of a good conscience, was, prophet, for in uttering these he spoke therefore, the prophet's grand source of as a mere man : only in exhorting his certitude. Even this, however, was only hearers to obey God and lead a good a moral certitude, not a mathematical; life was he the organ of a Divine revefor no man can be perfectly sure of his lation. own goodness.
To know and love God is the highest The power of imagining, the power of blessedness of man, and of all men feeling what goodness is, and the habit alike; to this all mankind are called, of practising goodness, were therefore and not anyone nation in particular. The the sole essential qualifications of a true Divine Law, properly so named, is the prophet. But for the purpose of the method of life for attaining this height message, the revelation, which God de- of human blessedness : this law is unisigned him to convey, these qualifica- versal, written in the heart, and one for tions were enough. The sum and sub- all mankind. Human law is the method stance of this revelation was simply : of life for attaining and preserving Believe in God, and lead a good life. To temporal security and prosperity ; this be the organ of this revelation, did not law is dictated by a lawgiver, and make a man more learned ; it left his every nation has its own. In the scientific knowledge as it found it. case of the Jews, this law was dictated, This explains the contradictory and by revelation, through the Prophets ; speculatively false opinions about God, its fundamental precept was to obey and the laws of Nature, which the God and to keep His commandments, Patriarchs, the Prophets, the Apostles and it is therefore, in a secondary sense, entertained. Abraham and the Patri- called Divine; but it was, nevertheless, archs knew God only as El Sadai, the framed in respect of temporal things Power which gives to every man that only. Even the truly moral and divine which suffices him ; Moses knew Him precept of this law, to practise for God's as Jehovah, a self-existent being, but sake justice and mercy towards one's imagined Him with the passions of a neighbour, meant for the Hebrew of the
Samuel imagined that God could Old Testament his Hebrew neighbour not repent of His sentences; Jeremiah, only, and had respect to the concord and that He could. Joshua, on a day of stability of the Hebrew Commonwealth. great victory, the ground being white The Jews were to obey God and to keep with hail, seeing the daylight last longer His commandments, that they might conthan usual, and imaginatively seizing tinue long in the land given to them, and this as a special sign of the help divinely that it might be well with them there. promised to him, declared that the sun Their election was a temporal one, and
lasted only so long as their State. It is own warrant along with it. The prenow over; and the only election the Jews sentation of it as this latter their hearers now have is that of the pious, the rem- were not able to bear.” The Apostles, nant, which takes place, and has always moreover, though they preached and taken place, in every other nation also. confirmed their doctrine by signs as Scripture itself teaches that there is a prophets, wrote their Epistles, not as universal divine law, that this is com- prophets, but as doctors and reasoners. mon to all nations alike, and is the law The essentials of their doctrine, indeed, which truly confers eternal blessedness. they took not from reason, but, like the Solomon, the wisest of the Jews, knew Prophets, from fact and revelation ; they this law, as the few wisest men in all preached belief in God and goodness of nations have ever known it; but for the life as a catholic religion, existing by mass of the Jews, as for the mass of virtue of the Passion of Christ, as the mankind everywhere, this law was hid- Prophets had preached belief in God den, and they had no notion of its moral and goodness of life as a national reliaction—its vera vita which conducts to gion existing by virtue of the Mosaic eternal blessedness-except so far as this Covenant; but while the Prophets an. action was enjoined upon them by the nounced their message in a form purely prescriptions of their temporal law. dogmatical, the Apostles developed
theirs When the ruin of their State brought with the forms of reasoning and arguwith it the ruin of their temporal law, mentation according to each apostle's they would have lost altogether their ability and way of thinking, and as they only clue to eternal blessedness. Christ might best commend their message to came when that fabric of the Jewish their hearers; and for their reasonings State, for the sake of which the Jewish they themselves claim no Divine authoLaw existed, was about to fall; and He rity, submitting them to the judgment of proclaimed the universal Divine Law. their hearers. Thus each apostle built A certain moral action is prescribed by essential religion on
a non-essential this law, as a certain moral action was foundation of his own, and, as St. Paul prescribed by the Jewish Law; but he
says, avoided building on the foundawho truly conceives the universal Divine tions of another apostle, which might be Lawconceives God's decrees adequately as quite different from his own. Hence: eternal truths, and for him moral action the discrepancies between the doctrine has liberty and self-knowledge ; while of one apostle and another-between the Prophets of the Jewish Law inade- that of St. Paul, for example, and that quately conceived God's decrees as mere of St. James; but these discrepancies rules and commands, and for them moral are in the non-essentials not given to action had no liberty and no self-know- them by revelation, and not in essenledge. Christ, who beheld the decrees tials. Human Churches, seizing these of God as God himself beholds them discrepant non-essentials as essentials, as eternal truths-proclaimed the love one maintaining one of them, another of God and the love of our neighbour as another, have filled the world with uncommands only because of the ignorance profitable disputes, have “turned the of the multitude : to those to whom it « Church into an academy, and religion was "given to know the mysteries of the “ into a science, or rather a wrangling," kingdom of God,” He announced them, as and have fallen into endless schism. He himself perceived them, as eternal What, then, are the essentials of Relitruths. And the Apostles, like Christ, gion according both to the Old and to spoke to many of their hearers “as unto the New Testament? Very few and carnal not spiritual;" presented to them, very simple. The precept to love God that is, the love of God and their neigh- and our neighbour. The precepts of bour as a Divine command authenticated the first chapter of Isaiah : “ Wash you, by the life and death of Christ, not as “ make you clean ; put away the evil an eternal idea of reason carrying its “ of your doings from before mine eyes ;
cease to do evil; learn to do well ; what the Bible tells us. This is that “ seek judgment; relieve the oppressed ; thing which had been kept secret since “ judge the fatherless ; plead for the .
“ the foundation of the world.” It is “ widow.” The precepts of the Sermon thus that by means of the foolishness of on the Mount, which add to the fore- the world God confounds the wise, and going the injunction that we should with things that are not brings to cease to do evil and learn to do well, not nought things that are. Of the truth to our brethren and fellow-citizens only, of the promise thus made to obedience but to all mankind. It is by following without knowledge, we can have no these precepts that belief in God is to mathematical certainty ; for we be shown ; if we believe in Him we have a mathematical certainty only of shall keep His commandment; and this things deduced by Reason from elements is His commandment, that we love one which she in herself possesses. But another. It is because it contains these we can have a moral certainty of it; a precepts that the Bible is properly called certainty such as the Prophets had themthe Word of God, in spite of its con- selves, arising out of the goodness and taining much that is mere history, and, pureness of those to whom this revelalike all history, is sometimes true, some- tion has been made, and rendered postimes false ; in spite of its contain- sible for us by its contradicting no prining much that is mere reasoning, and, ciples of Reason. It is a great comfort like all reasoning, is sometimes sound, to believe it; because " as it is only the sometimes hollow. These precepts are very small minority who can pursue a also the precepts of the universal “ virtuous life by the sole guidance of Divine Law written in our hearts; and reason, we should, unless we had this it is only by this that the Divinity “testimony of Scripture, be in doubt of Scripture is established ;-by its “ respecting the salvation of nearly the containing, namely, precepts identical “ whole human race." with those of this inly-written and It follows from this that Philosophy self-proving law. This law was in the has her own independent sphere, and world, as St. John says, before the doc- Theology hers, and that neither has the trine of Moses or the doctrine of Christ. right to invade and try to subdue the And what need was there, then, for other. Theology demands perfect obethese doctrines ? Because the world at dience, Philosophy perfect knowledge : large "knew not" this original Divine the obedience demanded by Theology Law, in which precepts are ideas, and and the knowledge demanded by Phithe belief in God the knowledge and losophy are alike saving. As speculacontemplation of Him. Reason gives tive opinions about God, Theology reus this law, Reason tells us that it leads quires only such as are indispensable to to eternal blessedness, and that those the reality of this obedience, the belief who follow it have no need of other. that God is, that He is a rewarder of But Reason could not have told us that them that seek Him, and that the proof the moral action of the universal Divine of seeking Him is a good life. These Law-followed not from a sense of its are the fundamentals of Faith, and they intrinsic goodness, truth, and necessity, are so clear and simple that none of the but simply in proof of obedience (for inaccuracies provable in the Bible narboth the Old and New Testament are rative the least affect them, and they but one long discipline of obedience), have indubitably come to us uncorsimply because it is so commanded by rupted. He who holds them may make, Moses in virtue of the Covenant, simply as the Patriarchs and Prophets did, other because it is so commanded by Christ in speculations about God most erroneous, virtue of His life and passion-can lead and yet their faith is complete and savto eternal blessedness, which means, for ing. Nay, beyond these fundamentals, Reason, eternal knowledge
. Reason speculative opinions are pious or im. could not have told us this, and this is pious, not as they are true or false, but
as they confirm or shake the believer in to the Israelites the passage of the Red the practice of obedience. The truest Sea without any mention of the East speculative opinion about the nature of Wind which attended it, and which is God is impious if it makes its holder re- brought accidentally to our knowledge bellious; the falsest speculative opinion in another place. So that to know exis pious if it makes him obedient. Go- actly what Scripture means in the relavernment should never render them- tion of each seeming miracle, we ought selves the tools of ecclesiastical ambition to know (besides the tropes and phrases by promulgating as fundamentals of the of the Hebrew language) the circumnational Church's faith more than these, stances, and also-since every one is and should concede the fullest liberty swayed in his manner of presenting facts of speculation.
by his own preconceived opinions, and But the multitude, which respects we have seen what those of the proonly what astonishes, terrifies, and over- phets were—the preconceived opinions whelms it, by no means takes this of each speaker. But this mode of insimple view of its own religion. To the terpreting Scripture is fatal to the vulmultitude Religion seems venerable only gar notion of its verbal inspiration, when it is subversive of Reason, con- of a sanctity and absolute truth in all firmed by miracles, conveyed in docu- the words and sentences of which it is ments materially sacred and infallible, composed. This vulgar notion is, inand dooming to damnation all without deed, a palpable error. It is demonits pale. But this religion of the mul- strable from the internal testimony of titude is not the religion which a true the Scriptures themselves, that the interpretation of Scripture finds in Books from the first of the Pentateuch Scripture. Reason tells us that a mi- to the last of Kings were put together, racle-understanding by a miracle a after the first Destruction of Jerusalem, breach of the laws of Nature—is impos- by a compiler (probably Ezra) who desible, and that to think it possible is to signed to relate the history of the Jewdishonour God; for the laws of Nature ish people from its origin to that deare the laws of God, and to say that struction: it is demonstrable, moreGod violates the laws of Nature is to say over, that the compiler did not put that He violates His own nature. Rea- his last hand to the work, but left son sees, too, that miracles can never it, with its extracts from various and attain their professed object,—that of conflicting sources sometimes bringing us to a higher knowledge of conciled-left it with errors of text God; since our knowledge of God is and unsettled readings. The prophetic raised only by perfecting and clearing books are mere fragments of the Proour conceptions, and the alleged design phets, collected by the Rabbins where of miracles is to baffle them. But they could find them, and inserted in neither does Scripture anywhere assert, the Canon according to their discretion. as a general truth, that miracles are They, at first, proposed to admit neither possible. Indeed, it asserts the con- the Book of Proverbs nor the Book of trary; for Jeremiah declares that Nature Ecclesiastes into the Canon, and only follows an invariable order. Scripture, admitted them because there were found however, like Nature herself, does not in them passages which commended the lay down speculative propositions (Scrip- Law of Moses Ezekiel also they had tura definitiones non tradit, ut nec etiam determined to exclude ; but one of their Natura). It relates matters in such an number remodelled him, so as to proorder and with such phraseology as a cure his admission. The Books of Ezra, speaker (often not perfectly instructed Nehemiah, Esther, and Daniel are the himself) who wanted to impress his work of a single author, and were not hearers with a lively sense of God's written till after Judas Maccabeus had greatness and goodness would naturally restored the worship of the Temple. employ; as Moses, for instance, relates The Book of Psalms was collected
and arranged at the same time. Be- national clergy, a corporation enjoying fore this time, there was no Canon of the most absolute freedom of inquiry; the Sacred Writings, and the great but that corporation will not be the synagogue, by which the Canon was present clergy of the Church of England. fixed, was first convened after the Mace- Coleridge maintained that the whole donian conquest of Asia. Of that syna- body of men of letters or science formed gogue none of the prophets were mem- the true clergy of a modern nation, and bers ; the learned men who composed it ought to participate in the endowments were guided by their own fallible judg- of the National Church. That is a ment. In like manner the uninspired beautiful theory; but it has not hitherto judgment of human councils determined been cordially welcomed by the clergy the Canon of the New Testament. of the Church of England. It has not
hitherto been been put in practice by Such, reduced to the briefest and the State. Is it to be put in practice plainest terms possible, stripped of the for the future? To any eminent laydevelopments and proofs with which he man of letters, who presents himself on delivers it, and divested of the meta- the other side the river with the exphysical language in which much of it terminating Five Problems, the passage is clothed by him, is the doctrine of of Cicero, and the prayer to Rám as his Spinoza's treatise on the interpreta- credentials, will the gates of Lambeth tion of Scripture. Certainly it is not fly open? the doctrine of any of the old Churches Literary criticism, however, must not of Christendom; of the Church of blame the Bishop of Natal because his Rome, or the Church of Constantinople, personal position is false, nor praise or the Church of England. But Spinoza Spinoza because his personal position is was not a member, still less a minister, sound. But, as it must deny to the of any one of these Churches. When Bishop's book the right of existing, he made a profession of faith widely when it can justify its existence neither different from that of any of them, by edifying the many nor informing he had not vowed to minister the doc- the few, it must concede that right to trine of one of them “as that Church Spinoza's for the sake of its unquestionhad received the same.” When he ably philosophic scope.
Many and claimed for Churchmen the widest lati- many are the propositions in Spinoza's tude of speculation in religious matters, work, which, brought by him to us out he was inviting Governments to con- of the sphere of his unaccepted philostruct a new Church; he was not hold- sophy, and presented with all the calm ing office in an old Church under articles inflexibility of his manner, are startexpressly promulgated to check “ dispu- ling, repellent, questionable. Criticism tations, altercations, or questions." The may take many and many objections Bishop of Natal cries out, that orders in to the facts and arguments of his the Church of England without full Treatise. But, by the whole scope and liberty of speculation are an intolerable drift of its argument, by the spirit in yoke. But he is thus crying out for a which the subject is throughout treated, new Church of England, which is not his work undeniably becomes interesting that in which he has voluntarily taken and stimulating to the general culture office. He forgets that the clergy of a of Europe. There are alleged contraChurch with formularies like those of dictions in Scripture; and the question the Church of England, exist in virtue which the general culture of Europe, of their relinquishing in religious informed of this, asks with real inmatters full liberty of speculation. terest is, as I have said,— What then ? Liberal potentates of the English Church, To this question Spinoza returns an who so loudly sound the praises of free- answer, and the Bishop of Natal returns dom of inquiry, forget it also. It may none. The Bishop of Natal keeps going be time for the State to institute, as its round for ever within the barren sphere