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disturbing influences, the results of the modern philosophy, scholarship, and criticism, which were known outside of the Church as threatening forms of faith identified with the creeds and traditions of earlier times. They were willing to admit that they too shared more or less of the uneasiness and restlessness incident to an unsettled state of mind on many matters of serious interest. They insisted that it became the highly privileged representatives of the learning and dignity of the Establishment to recognize the actual state of opinion in the constituency which they served. Either through their own free studies and mental experiences, or by their converse with others in a larger fellowship, they had come to know that the state of mind called "infidelity" was extending and strengthening itself with a different spirit, and on other materials than had been dealt with or addressed in the former expositions and defences of the Christian faith. This state of mind, instead of having a single point of affinity with the coarse cavilling of a reckless and rioting scepticism, presented itself to them as the result of the most mature thought and the most advanced truth of our own age, gathering up the contributions made to it from many provinces of speculative and positive inquiry; and it was speaking through force of moral convictions. It certainly was a token of their loyalty to interests of a broader sweep than those of their own communion, which disposed these seven men to make themselves fearlessly the instruments, even if they should prove to be the victims, of rousing their own Church to a sense of its responsibility under a wholly changed condition of things. It was for them, in their clerical and academic positions, to meet the simple fact that actually new materials have been contributed to the thought and knowledge of the age, which require a re-adjustment of the grounds and contents of its religious faith, especially its faith in the methods and evidences and substance of revelation. Comparative philology and more severe principles brought to the critical study of the text of Scripture; the discoveries and theories of positive science, physical and philosophical; researches and explorations all over the surface of the globe and deep into its bowels; the unearthing of ancient monuments, and the close comparison of Scriptural and secu
lar histories, are to be recognized as such new materials. It is hardly to be supposed that their recognition as such, with the quickened interest of thought and inquiry which they engage, should leave them to be regarded with simple indifference, as they may or do affect the principles and the tenets of the popular faith. Such new contributions to thought and knowledge have a sensible influence upon those who make them, the general tendency of them being in the direction of more liberal views in religion. And when these new elements for intellectual and spiritual digestion become popularized for more extended appropriation, they produce a sensible effect on the religious faith of the age. The Essayists and Reviewers announced that the new leaven was working in them. They might have kept to themselves every troublesome prompting. They might, at least, have availed themselves of one set of clerical scruples to repress another set of clerical scruples. Some nine thousand of their brethren have indicated, by their subscriptions, that they wish to have all the force and penalties of ecclesiastical law brought against them. We are uncharitable enough to believe that very many who have assailed them with the greatest bitterness have done so in anger with them for having disturbed the fictitious peace of the Church.
For, in addition to what we have already written as to what was the main design of the Essayists, and as to their eminent success in it, we may say that our views on these points are abundantly confirmed by the treatment which they have received, and by the development of the whole course of proceedings resulting from their publication. There was not a single idea, fancy, speculation, or alleged fact, or matter of argument, contained in the book, which was not already finding free circulation over England in one or more well-known publications. The first edition of the "Essays and Reviews" lingered on the publishers' hands, and there was no reason to suppose that even a second edition would be called for, still less that circumstances would ever be likely to insure for the book the enormous circulation which it has found. The special phenomenon in the case was the combination of seven bold pens, trained in the Church and the Universities, for a
work which compelled the Church authorities to take one or the other alternative course concerning it,—either by utter indifference to allow it to lead off a whole series of similar publications, thus acquiescing in the advance of a dangerous liberality which they dared not withstand, or to subject the writers to ecclesiastical censure. Doubtless the shrewder portion of the clergy, independent of any degrees of sympathy which they might have had with the spirit and contents of the book, would have preferred, and might have counselled, an assumed indifference about it. But such men are not apt to declare themselves under such circumstances; or if they do so, they are not heeded. It was evident that a large body of the zealots of the Church were highly enraged on finding that henceforward they were to be compelled to deal within their own communion, to deal publicly too, and amid a direful succession of scandals, with obnoxious opinions and shapeless but dreaded heresies, which it had been possible heretofore to regard as the plagues of the outside region of dissent and infidelity. The Bishop of Oxford, in his Preface to one of the books to which we are soon to refer, betrays how vengefully he has himself felt this spirit. From the moment in which the earliest readers and reviewers of the offensive volume presented it in the character of a work, by divines of the Church, containing views inconsistent with the creeds and canons, the indignation visited upon it began to be most intense; nor has it yet spent itself. Obloquy, condemnation, and punishment had a long start of any attempted answers to the book. "Convocation," one of the many shams and fictions of the English Church, haply shorn of any power or function of mischief beyond that of giving new occasion and material for the ridicule visited upon assemblies of the clergy when they legislate upon subjects on which they have no power judicial or executive, Convocation was proceeding bravely in its pellet warfare against the Essayists and Reviewers, when some acute divine suggested that, as the bishops might yet have to prosecute, it would not be wise for them previously to condemn. Two such prosecutions have been instigated against two of the heretical writers, and judgment is awaited from the ecclesiastical court. A third was commenced, but withdrawn. The
admirable and most searching argument made by one of the counsel for the defence in one of these prosecutions is thus far the noblest and ablest of the whole flood of utterances and publications which the new controversy has called out. Indeed, as a contribution of a layman to the subject-matters with which it deals, it is of unsurpassed power and cogency. We have before us a list of more than a hundred pamphlets, parts of many of which we have read, dealing more or less directly with the Essayists, and their position or their opinions. Some of these, got up in the interest of the so-called Evangelical party, are dismal enough and despicable enough to present the Church, if we could regard them as fair exponents of any large portion of it, in a most lamentable light, as discredited by the common sense as well as the scholarship and the culture of the age. A few of these pamphlets, written by wellinformed and Christian-minded men, indicate power, and furnish some most sensible and effective criticisms and securities against the more unguarded and erroneous incidental matters contained in the "Essays and Reviews." There are unmistakable weak points, crude fancies, and false and untenable positions in that volume. No more commendable object could be proposed to one of the more scholarly and large-minded men of a conservative and reverent spirit in the Establishment, than that of dealing with the contents of that book so far as any principle of unity in its aim and matter can be ascribed to it, and with the candid desire of admitting what it has of force and truth, and exposing its by no means infrequent or trifling errors. But such a contribution has not yet been made to our literature. It will come by and by.
Strangely enough, some of the keenest shafts and some of the most damaging blows, as well as occasionally a very cogent argument, against the Essayists and Reviewers, are found in a book by a single author, and as large as their own, which, for bitterness of spirit and almost scurrility of invective, has few worse specimens, even in theological literature. We refer to a volume entitled "Inspiration and Interpretation, by Rev.
Defence of the Rev. Rowland Williams, D. D., in the Arches Court of Canterbury. By James Fitzjames Stephen, M. A., Barrister, &c. London: Smith, Elder, and Company.
John W. Burgon, Fellow of Oriel College, Oxford, and Select Preacher." If he be a select preacher, the listeners to those not select are to be profoundly commiserated, unless he be selected for the purpose of trying to what extent the language of angry fishwomen and Billingsgate can be introduced into the pulpit. He calls his work an "Answer to Essays and Reviews." We have written none too strongly of some of the good points of the book; but that he should have been allowed to utter some of his foul and coarse abuse in the pulpit where those whom he calumniates and besmears are wont to preach, is to us an unexplained marvel.
"The Tracts for the Times," by members of the Church of England, of which up to this time thirteen have been published, are better contributions to the new issue. In spirit they are wholly, and in their contents substantially, in accord with the instigating cause of their publication. They grow bolder as they multiply their lively and fresh appeals to those in sympathy with them, and are calling out many new authors of talent.
We have now before us two solid volumes which have been deliberately prepared and long waited for with high-raised expectation, both of them claiming episcopal sanction as bringing the conservative spirit of competent, scholarly, and orthodox men to bear upon a shaken, if not a hopelessly damaged cause. Each of the volumes embraces a series of essays by different authors, corresponding to those which have raised such an alarm. Their publication will tend to give a more healthful and wise direction to the excitement which has so fiercely agitated the English Church. It would have been well if the editors of these volumes, realizing how the profoundly serious issues at stake transcended all the personalities and individualisms under which the controversy had been pressed upon them, had resolved to overlook every consideration not vital to the great subjects of discussion. For the most part, this desirable object has been kept in view. The majority of the pieces in both volumes prove that the writers preserved their temper, and set about their tasks in a reverent and discreet frame of mind. The result so far is, that many positions taken, if not strenuously maintained, by the Essayists