Page images

but as a history of truths which seem to be always fading away before the eyes of men, and are always needing to be revived. It should not be critical or sentimental or picturesque, but it should seek to bring the mind and thoughts of Christ a little nearer to the human heart. To do this in the spirit, not in the letter, not rashly applying the precepts of the Gospel to an altered world, but strengthening and deepening their inward power and life, may be the work of another generation in theology.'

Among the subjects which were to be included in the introduction to the Life of Christ were miracles—a constant source of difficulty when the religious view of the world is fading away before the scientific view, or at least has to take new forms in adaptation to it. Thirty years previously he had written to Stanley: 'I have not any tendency to doubt about the miracles of the New Testament'; and defended the miracles of the Old Testament on grounds of general probability. In the interval his view had greatly changed. Now he writes :

"The grounds on which miracles have been believed are perpetually shifting (the arguments of to-day differ from Paley); the attack on them has never been combined with a profound faith in the Christian religion; they have never been regarded as the great hindrance to the reception of religion. The last century asked us to believe in Christianity because of the miracles ; the present (asks us to believe in Christianity in spite of the miracles, or to believe the miracles for the sake of Christianity.

No one believes the miracles who does not believe the religion which they are supposed to attest. No Pagan believes the miracles of a Christian ; no Christian, of a Pagan; no Jesuit, of a Jansenist ; no Protestant, of a Catholic. Every one who affirms the truth of miracles does in fact assert the truth of his own miracles as the one exception to all the rest. But how impossible is this! For he asks you to believe the most improbable of all things, and does at the same time acknowledge


1 Vol. i. pp. 119, 120.

a principle of self-illusion in human nature, quite sufficient to have invented them.

• We are led to believe miracles by the consequences of disbelieving in them. (Consider also the consequences of believing in them: no reconcilement with science, no principle on which you can believe them, and not believe the ecclesiastical Roman Catholic miracles.) And yet no one could say that this is a legitimate reason for belief of anything. On the other hand, it is a ground that becomes stronger as the world

grows older.



Whether we like to admit it or not, the belief in miracles is fading away, and can only be maintained by a violent effort, which must revive many other superstitions.'

In another note he sketches his idea of a perfect Liturgy:

'A perfect Liturgy should be : '1. Ancient. 62. Yet not at variance with modern scientific opinion. * 3. Should vary within certain limits. 4. Should be adapted to private as well as public devotion.

65. Should consist of what is highest and deepest in thought and purest in expression.

6. Should respond to the fears, hopes, sorrows, speculations of mankind.

67. Should have no creeds ; for these almost at once pass into mere words.

8. Should be the "expression" of our highest thoughts and feelings; not exhortations or confessions, not the mere intensifying or exaggerating of our ordinary religion, but the elevation of it.'

And here we have some last words on inspiration :

1. Were the writers of the New Testament inspired when they wrote in any other sense than they were during the rest of their lives ?

2. Is there any essential difference between the apostle St. Paul and St. Bernard, and if so, how is this difference to be defined or ascertained ?

[ocr errors]

3. Is there any difference between St. Bernard and Plato except that they were men of genius of a different kind-the one a religious genius, the other a philosophical and poetical genius ?

'4. But if so, inspiration must be extended to all men who rise above themselves, who get out of themselves, who have anticipations of truths which they cannot realize ; who live not in the present and individual, but in the future and universal world.

'5. But if so, every great and good man is inspired, or none are inspired, and all the great thoughts of mankind are to be treated as part of the sacred inheritance.'

LETTERS, 1873-1876.

To R. B. D. MORIER, C.B.



OXFORD, January 16, 1873Will you be surprised at receiving a letter from me ?-Not so much as I should be surprised at receiving one from you à propos of nothing, for I am writing merely from a desire to know how you are and what you are doing-in quest of your love, in short (and you owe me your love, 'which is worth more than a thousand pounds"'). And I shall make an agreement with you at the outset that you shall answer within twenty-four hours, if I am ever to write again-unless indeed a revolution is going on in Europe, and then of course I know that 'men of merit?' are better occupied than in writing to me,

Tell me whether you think that Bismarck can beat the Jesuits. I wonder whether he knows how to do it-not merely by ex. pelling them—they will soon come back again with seven other



"'A thousand pound, Hal ? million; thou owest me thy love.' a million : thy love is worth a -1 Henry IV,

2 Henry IV, ii. 4.

jji. 3.

I am

[ocr errors]

devils—but by leaving no place for them-getting education out of the Catholic hands-making priests take degrees at the Universities, and allowing them gradually to marry.

The Old Catholics go too far or not far enough. I suppose that as yet they have organized nothing. They are not scholars in the sense of the great scholars of the Reformation, but only learned Catholics. Nor do they seem to be penetrated with the desire to teach the world a great moral truth, with bishops or without bishops. How can that matter to any one who considers what religion is ? A movement which makes the apostolical succession a sine qua non is essentially Catholic, and will appear so in history.

I have read some of Strauss's Alte und Neue Glaube. surprised to see that he pins his faith upon ‘Darwinism,' which seems to me not so much an untrue, as an utterly inadequate account of the world. I have for a long time past thought that miracles had no sufficient evidence. But what I regret in these German critics is that they seem never to consider the proportion which their discoveries bear to the whole truth. Are we to be sunk in materialism and sensualism, feebly rising into a sort of sentimentalism, because Strauss and others have shown that the Gospels partake of the character of other ancient writings, or because Darwin has imagined a theory by which one species may pass into another? I shall have

many talks to you about these things when we meet.

I have been taking holidays during the last three weeks, and mean for the future to take three months' holiday in the year, and two days in each week. I want to hold out as long as I can, and hope to make Balliol into a really great College if I live for ten years. This year we are going to add about twenty sets of rooms to the College, and, if the piety of the Balliolenses will assist me, I hope to build a large Hall in the garden of Morrell's house. Many things have been pleasant to me in the last

The College is really improved in some ways, and I have never had the least difference with any of the Fellows.

Are you coming to England this year? If not, I must come to look you up at Munich. I hope that you keep your enemy, the gout, at a respectful distance, and that you really pursue some plan of life an unrealized ideal, if you like, and often

two years.

interrupted by illness, but still cherished at forty-five as well as at twenty-five. And do not be discouraged by the weakness of poor human creatures, ourselves included, more especially statesmen, who always have an unsound piece somewhere when they are looked at all round. Any man who has any bulk or weight in him (I wrote this without thinking) is to be respected, or at any rate may be made use of, if we who profess to have a clearer insight can keep our heads and hold our tongues.


OXFORD, April 28, (1873). I am afraid that we fight the battle about the Athanasian Creed in too gentle a manner. As Wesley says of predestination, if the damnatory clauses are true, God is worse than the devil. Better far to be an atheist than to believe them.

They are the watchwords of a party, and the party is so strong that the Archbishop of Canterbury, having spoken a few words which express the natural feeling of every honest man, is fain to retract and deny them.' This is the miserable result of these great positions. Every idea of truth bows to ecclesiastical expediency.

Is there no eccentric person in the House of Commons who can be induced to bring in a Bill making the use of the Creed optional ?

I send you a little book of Prayers which I have compiled for the Chapel-not really what I wished, for the Bishop forced upon me the Litany, but still I find it answers pretty well.



December 29, 1873. I shall be very much pleased to have Sophocles dedicated to me (I cannot express how much I feel all your kindness and attachment to me); but you must do it, if you will, without my permission, for I have refused others.

I am so glad to hear that you are prosperous and able to work. I have been rather lagging during the last year, and am told

« PreviousContinue »