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Oh! that a word could be said for them where it might avail them. Oh! that they were less out of humanity's reach.' Oh! that Fashion would think, and pause in its dread exactions. A veil rests upon both these classes, the rending of which would make some fearful disclosures. It would be a heartbreaking martyrology. The gifted and the beautiful, the young, the kind, and the pure, how often would their names be found amongst the victims of those employments which, managed as they too often are, demand so much of life, that it is tantamount to demanding death. Will this always be? Can nothing be done to save them?”-Report, pp. 14-18.
With this we take leave of the subject, as of one which we hope to have no further occasion to recur to. It appears to us, we repeat it, that, with the advocates and resources it can now command, it needs but a continuance of the same earnest efforts, made in the same gentle yet manly spirit, to be, in a few years, among the mists that once hung dimmingly over society, but which the breezes will have totally dispersed, while the sunshine has settled into their room.
VOL. VI. No. 25.-New Series.
Art. VI.-HUMAN NATURE. London: John Chapman.
pp. 91. 8vo.
A man may be known, says the proverb, by the company he keeps; and a nation may be judged as correctly by the controversies in which it engages. An observer of the social aspect of England at the present time would easily remark the deep strong tide of religious feeling that has set in of late years, by attending to the theological disputations and practical spiritual problems which float, in their unwieldy bulk or fantastic forms, along the stream. There is indeed an under-current of benevolent sentiment, which every now and then evinces its existence by the philanthropic schemes and inquiries which are thrown
from amidst the heaving struggling masses of opinion; but the intellectual strength of the age is absorbed for the most part in theological dispute, not in the discussion of great vital principles, such as marked the first stages of the Reformation, when the main question at issue was one of life or death to the human soul. Unhappily for our spiritual prospects, there is in our country at present a marked absence of interest in grand momentous theological principles. The display of zeal takes place rather in an exaltation of the weak and beggarly elements of bondage, in questions and strifes of words, or “ perverse disputings' about matters which may once have been of importance, as an outward rind to the seed of truth; hut which, like other husks, should never be fed on, while there is bread enough and to spare in our Father's house. Perhaps one of the worst evils arising from such a state of affairs is the necessity under which men capable of far better things find themselves, of spending their time and strength in demolishing the errors and repairing the mischief which result from the labours of those who have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge.
How far that necessity is real or apparent, how far the spiritual guides of the people ought to confine themselves to the development and establishment of Truth, leaving errors to die a natural death, is a practical problem that has greatly, though we think unnecessarily, perplexed the members of our own denomination in particular, both here and across the Atlantic. It is doubtless pleasant to wash our hands altogether of controversy; declaring that, for our part, instead of pulling our neighbour's house about his ears, we shall always build up, just in front of his own crazy tenement, the beautiful edifice of Truth, which it will be very hard if we cannot induce him to exchange for his previous unscriptural and unhealthy abode. Partly, however, owing to the inherent obstinacy, we suppose, of human nature, partly to the fond associations which bind us to our early home, how mean or squalid soever it be, people do very often resist this hospitable mode of procedure, and refuse to quit those opinions which we believe to be a great obstacle to human progress, until they have been well nigh battered down by vigorous controversy. But while we admit that the necessity for controversy will never cease to exist so long as error remains in the world, and that it is often impossible to find a site on which to build up positive views, as they are termed, till we have made a considerable clearance, we ought to be deeply impressed with the obligation under which we all lie, either as givers or receivers of Opinion, of making our main object the discovery and propagation of grander, brighter, more profound, and thrilling views of God's eternal Truth. In the realms of Thought, as in the sphere of Virtue, we should ever be seeking after some higher thing. If the Tractarians are hard at work in one direction, and the lovers of Straussian myths in another, if between these two extreme poles of the Christian world an inconceivable amount of learning, labour, zeal, and theological acumen are squandered upon interminable discussions respecting personalities, influences,' satisfaction,'milleniums, regeneration,'' unnecessary facts,' &c. &c., while the people meantime are perishing for lack of the bread which alone sustaineth, what a solemn call it is for men of might to come over and help us !—to lead the public mind to the fresh and untrodden fields of Thought, which extend boundlessly on every side. Here and there it is being done by one or two noble pioneers in different denominations, in a manner which clearly indicates the direction which the efforts of others should take. But it is not only leaders whom we require. The work of Diffusion is not less important than that of Discovery ; nor can we expect a better condition of affairs in the religious world until the spiritual guides of the people in their various spheres of action are zealously co-operating with those who are fitted to lead the way in causing Religion to occupy that sovereign throne in the world of Thought and Action for which she is evidently destined by the Creator.
Let us take it for granted, without further preface, that, in the present day at all events, Religious Reformation, or (in the language of that excellent apostle of pure Christianity, Joseph Barker) Evangelical Reform, is greatly needed. Let us grant moreover that this necessity is, and always will be, periodical. Our duty in such case then is to assist in expounding the manner in which that Reform should be conducted,
The one great object which Religious Reformers must set before them is evidently to enthrone Religion as the supreme sovereign ruler over the thoughts and feelings of men ;-to give her absolute dominion in the head and heart of society. The grand ambition of the Romish Church to exalt itself above the civil power, the indomitable energy and perseverance with which it asserted, and, with varying fortune, long maintained, the supremacy of the Spiritual over the Temporal authorities, was an emblem, though coarse and worldly, of the conflict which has to be carried on in all ages by the true servants of the Most High. They have to challenge, for what they believe to be pure and undefiled Religion, the sole undivided right of enunciating the great principles on which alone all practical rules and modes of action are to be founded; of constituting the only ultimate court of appeal in all questions that can arise between man and man; of deciding upon all claims to authority and influence over the temporal as well as spiritual interests of society; of directly or indirectly moving the various springs of thought and feeling which impel the world of humanity on its daily course. Το establish Rights like these is no child's play, but a mighty work which requires, and receives, divine assistance. It is to be attempted, because it is God's will; and for the same reason, it is to be done. In the present day, as we have remarked, it is but very partially attempted, and, as a matter of course, but very slightly accomplished. The leading minds of the age are no doubt chiefly to blame. Not so much those of the present generation; for it necessarily takes a considerable time before great and stirring thoughts can descend from the heights where they originate and take firm hold upon society. The fault is more with those into whose labours we ought now to be entering. There are signs which give hope that our successors will have less reason for this complaint. Be it then the watchful care of the humble missionaries of Truth, which, more or less, every member of Christ's Church ought to be, that they fall not short of the work which others have given us to do : lest we fall short also of that rest which remaineth for the people of God.
The enterprise of giving to Religion her rightful and absolute sway over human affairs, naturally divides itself into two modes of action. First, to establish her influence over the Literature of our country,-over our speculative, didactic, and imaginative forms and expressions of Thought. Secondly, to bring her influence to bear directly wherever Practical measures are discussed and carried into effect.
Of the latter of these divisions, as we have least to say, we shall speak first. Synagogues, churches and pulpits have been
consecrated, since the promulgation of the Ten Commandments, to the work of urging religious obligation in practical affairs. None who allow that religion has any claims at all have ever disputed the propriety of such a mode of enforcing those claims, so long as they had reference only to the individual actions of each worshipper. Offence has often, of course, been given to individuals; but the great body of the laity have acknowledged the spiritual authority of the preacher. The grand contest has invariably taken place when the priesthood have endeavoured to enforce that authority against what they deemed the practical violation of Religion by temporal powers, by the sinful proceedings of political bodies and public communities. In so far as the motives of the priesthood in this world-wide struggle have been pure from temporal ambition, their object was a most important one, and still ought to be as strenuously as ever aimed at by the Ministers of Religion in the nineteenth century. The interests of Religion are betrayed upon a gigantic scale, when her right to dominion over the counsels and measures of public bodies and civil authorities is passively abandoned. She suffers under the lamentable effects of such treason in all countries where it has worked its will, in every human heart even which is professedly and theoretically surrendered to her sovereign rule. Where men behold the great rules of morality and religion openly disregarded by Governments, and the standard of expediency or necessity substituted in national arrangements, there is inevitably a fearful encouragement given to laxity of principle in private life. But independently of the general injury to morality caused by such wholesale abandonment of God for the service of Mammon, there are no limits to be set to the injurious influences both on body and soul, especially of the poorer classes, caused by the political errors which Religion only could prevent or rectify. She must be enthroned in the Cabinet, and the Senate, as well as in the Prayer-meeting and the Sunday-school, before the kingdom of heaven can really come; and the ministers of the Gospel abandon her interests in those high places' at their serious peril. Had Luther been the bosom friend of Munzer, and their respective aims mutually permeated each other's soul, the temporal and spiritual welfare of Christ's Church would have received a far mightier impulse than the Reformation gave it. Christ himself never neglected the physical condition of his brethren, either in his practice or in his directions for entering upon life eternal. He made no distinctions between irreligion on a public or a private scale, except to give the greater sin the sterner condemnation. Neither have Christ's ministers any warranty for conniving at rebellion to his