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applied to these two prelates what was said of Bossuet and Fenelon, “l’un prouve la Religion, l'autre la fait aimer.”
If wę studiously contrived how to furnish the most complete triumph to infidels, contentious theology would be our best contrivance. They enjoy the wounds the combatants inflict on each other, not so much from the personal injury which either might sustain, as from the conviction that every attack, however it may terminate, weakens the common cause. In all engagements with a foreign foe, they know that Christianity must come off triumphantly. All their hopes are founded on a civil war.
If a forbearing temper should be maintained towards the irreligious, how much more by the professors of reli. gion towards each other. As it is a lamentable instance of human infirmity that there is often much hostility.carried on by good men who profess the same faith ; so it is a striking proof of the litigious nature of man that this spi. rit is less excited by broad distinctions, (such as conscience ought not to reconcile) than by shades of opinion, shades so few and slight, that the world would not know they existed at all, if by their animosities the disputants were not so inpatient to inform it.
While we should never withhold a clear and honest avowal of the great principles of our religion, let us discreetly avoid dwelling on inconsiderable distinctions, on which, as they do not affect the essentials either of faith or practice, we may allow another to maintain his opinion, while we steadily hold fast our own. But in religious as in military warfare, it almost seems as if the hostility were great in proportion to the littleness of the point contested. We all remember when two great nations were on the point of being involved in war for a spot of ground" in anothier hemisphere, so little known that the very uame had scarcely reached us ; so inconsiderable that its possession would have added nothing to the strength of either. In civil too, as well as in national and theological disputes, there is often most stress laid on the most indifferent things. Why would the Spanish Goyerpment some years ago so little consult the prejudices of the people, as nearly to produce an insurrection, by issuing an edict for them to relinquish the ancient pa-*
* Nootka Sound.
tional dress? Why was the secarity of the state, and the lives of the subjects put to hazard for a cloak aud a jerkin? For the obstinate people made as firm a stand a. gainst this trifling requisition, as they could have made for the preservation of their civil or religious liberty, if they had been so happy as to possess either-a stand as firm as they are now nobly making in defence of their country and their independence. , Without invidiously enumerating any of the narrowing names which split Christianity in pieces, and which so unhappily drive the subjects of the Prince of peace into interminable war, and range them into so many hostile bands, not against the common enemy, but agaiost each other; we cannot forbear regretting that less temper is preserved amongst these near neighbours in local situa. tion and in christian truth, than if the attack of either were levelled at Jews, Turks, or Infidels.
Is this that Catholic spirit which embraces with the love of charity, though not of approbation, the whole offspring of our common Fatherm-which in the arms of its large affection, without vindicating their faults or a. dopting their opinions, “ takes every creature in of every kind," and which like its gracious Author, “would not that any thing should perish?”
The preference of remote to approximating opinions is, however, by no meaus confined to the religious world. The author of the Declipe and Fall of the Roman Empire, though so passionate an admirer of the prophet of Arabia as to raise a suspioion of his own Islamism; though so rapturous an eulogist of the apostate Julian as to raise a suspicion of his own polytheism, yet with an inconsistency not uncommon to unbelief he, treats the stout orthodoxy of the vehement Athanasius, with more respect than be shews to the “ scanty creed" of a conteni. porary philosopher and theologian, whose cold and comtortless doctrines were much less removed from his own
Might not the twelve monsters which even the incredible strength and labour of Hercules found so hard to subdue, be interpreted as an ingenious allegory, by which were meant twelve popular prejudices ? But though the hero went forth armed preternaturally, the goddess of wisdom herself furvishing him with his helmet, and the god of eloquence with his arrows, yet it is not certain that he conquered the religious prejudices, not of the world,
but even of Argos and Mycenæ ; at least they were not among his earlier congnests; they were not serpents which an infant hand could strangle. They were more probably the fruitful hydra, which lost nothing by losing a head, a new head always starting up to supply the incessant decapitation. But though he slew the animal at last, might not its envenomed gore in which his arrows were dipped be the perennial fountain in which persecuting bigotry, harsh intolerance, and polemical acrimony, have continued to dip their pens?!
It is a delicate point to bit upon, neither to vindicate the truth in so coarse a manner as to excite a prejudice against it, nor to make any concessions in the hope of obtaining popularity. " If it be possible as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men” can no more mean that we should exercise that false candour which conciliates at the expense of sincerity, than that we sliould defend truth with so intolerant a spirit, as to injure the cause by discrediting the advocate.
As the apostle beautifully obtests his brethren, not by the power and dignity, but“ by the meekness and gentleness of Christ," so every christian should adorn his doctrine by the same endearing qualities, evincing by the brightness of the polish, the solidity of the substance. But he will carefully avoid adopting the external ap: pearance of these amiable tempers as substitutes for pie. ty, when they are only its ornaments. Condescending manners may be one of the numberless modifications of selfishness, and reputation is thus often obtained, where it is not fairly earned. Carefully to examine whether he please others for their good to edification, or in order to gain praise and popularity, is the bounden duty of a christian.
We shonld not be angry with the blind for not seeing, nor with the proud for not acknowledging their blindness. We ourselves perhaps were once as blind; happy if we are not still as proud. If not in this instance, in others perhaps they might have made more of our advantages than we have done; we, under their circunstances, nright have been more perversely wrong than they are, had we not been treated by the enlightened with more patient tenderness than we are disposed to exercise to. wards theni. Tyre and Sidon we are assured by Truth itself, would have repented, had they enjoyed the privi.
leges which Chorazin and Bethsaida threw away. Surely we may do that for the love of God, and for the love of our opponent's soul, which well-bred men do through a regard to politeness. Why should a christian be more ready to offend against the rule of charity that a gentleman against the law of decorum? Candour in judging is like disinterestedness in acting ; both are statutes of the royal law.
There is also a kind of right which men feel they possess to their own opinion. With this right it is often more difficult to part than even with the opinion itself. If our object be the real good of our opponent; if it be to promote the cause of truth, and not to contest for victory, we shall remember this. We shall consider what a value we put up. on our own opinion : why should his, though a false one, be less dear to bim, if he believes it true? This conside ration will teach as not to expect too much at first. It will teach us the prudence of seeking some general point, in which we cannot fail to agree. This will let him see that we do not differ from bim for the sake of differing; which conciliating spirit of ours may bring him to a temper to listen to arguments on topics where our disagreement is wider. - In disputing, for instance, with those who wholly reject the divine authority of the scriptures, we can gain nothing by quoting them, and insisting vehemently on the proof which is to be drawn from them, in support of the point in debate; their upquestionable truth avail. ing nothing with those who do not allow it. But if we take some common ground on which both the parties can stand, and reason from the analogies of natural religion, and the way in which God proceeds in the known and ac knowledged course of his providence, to the way in which le deals with us, and has declared he will deal with us, as the God revealed in the Bible: our opponent may be struck with the similarity and be put upon a track of consideration, and be brought to a temper in consid. ering which may terminate in the happiest manner. He may be brought at length to be less averse from listening to us, on those grounds and principles of which probably he might otherwise never have seen the value.
Where a disputant of another description cannot en. dure what he sneeringly calls the strictness of evangelical religion, he will bave no objection to acknowledge the
momentous truths of man's responsibility to his Maker, of the omniscience, omnipresence, majesty, and purity of God. Strive then to meet him on these grounds, and respectfully inquire if he can sincerely affirm that he is acting up to the truths lie acknowledges ?-If he is living in all respects as an accountable being onght to live? If he is really conscious of acting as a being ought to act, who knows that he is continually acting under the eye of a just and holy God? You will find he cannot stand on these grounds. Either he must be contented to receive the truth as revealed in the Gospel, or be convicted of inconsistency, or self deceit, or bypocrisy. You will at Jeast drive him off his own ground which he will find untenable, if you cannot bring him over to yours. But while the enemy is effecting his retreat, do not you cut off the means of his return.
Some Christians approve christianity as it is knowledge, rather than as it is principle. They like it as it yields a grand object of pursuit; as it enlarges their view of things, as it opens to them a wider field of inquiry, a fresh source of discovery, an additional topic of critical inves. tigation. They consider it rather as extending the limits of their research, than as a means of ennobling their affections. It furnishes their understanding with a fund of riches on which they are eager to draw, not so much for the improvement of the heart as of the intellect. They consider it as a thesis on which to raise interesting discussion, rather than as premises from wluich to draw practical conclusions, as an incontrovertible truth, rather than as a rule of life.
There is something in the exhibition of sacred subjects given us by these persons, which according to our conception, is not only mistaken but pernicious. We refer to their treatment of religion as a mere science divested of its practical application, and taken rather as a code of philosophical speculations than of active principles. To explain our meaning, we might perhaps venture to except against the choice of topics almost exclusively made by these writers.
After they have spent half a life upon the evidences, the mere vestibule, so necessary, we allow, to be passed into the Teinple of Christianity, we accompany them into their edifice, and find it composed of materials but tvo coincident with their former taste. Questions of criti.