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but in her whole national character, which has grown out of, and is throughout interpenetrated by, her reformed faith; that we surrender the hard-won freedom of our thoughts, the boldness of our judgements, the independence of our mental being—(for without that absolute surrender there can be no true, full, and unquestioning conversion to the creed of Rome -no submission to Mediæval Christianity)—that all our proud national reminiscences — the glories of our Elizabeth, of the reigns of our William and our Anne, shall be disdainfully thrown aside—the defeat of the Armada become a questionable blessing, the Revolution a national sin demanding the fullest expiation—the accession of the House of Brunswick a crime and a calamity-our universal toleration be looked on as a sin against God—our late-wrung concessions to dissentients revoked as soon as the Church regains her power—the sovereign of the worst-ruled state in Europe have power to dictate the religious part of our Constitution. Nor is our whole history alone to be renewed and rewritten : our whole literature—not merely our theology from Hooker, and Taylor, and Barrow, down to Paley; but all our great prose writers, Bacon, and Raleigh, and Clarendon, even to the present day; our poets-if Shakspeare be too universal not to stand above even these controversiesyet Spenser, the poet of Elizabeth—yet Milton, the Italian translation of which we saw the other day in the Index of prohibited books—yet all (but one-half of Dryden, and that, however in his class inimitable, certainly no profoundly religious writer, the author of the · Essay on Man') down to Cowper, to Scott, to Southey, and to Wordsworth: all must retire or do penance by mutilation; and give place to a race of individuals yet unborn, or at least undeveloped, who in the nineteenth century will aspire to reproduce the poetry, the history, the philosophy of the fourteenth.
Cast now a hasty prophetic glance on the consequences. The destruction of the English Church (to say nothing of the Scotch) may be within the remote bounds of possibility. Can the reconstruction of the Roman Catholic as a national Church be dreamed of by the wildest enthusiast ? One vast voluntary system then pervades the land. In the part (the small part, we fear) still occupied by religion (we set aside for the moment the faithful but discouraged ministers of our Church), the Methodist, the Independent, the Baptist, with their Bible and hymn-book come into fierce collision with the priest and his breviary; and with whom will the people of England—the middle and lower classes of England—those that have the real sway, the votes, the control of the government, take their side ? For one splendid Roman Catholic cathedral would rise a hundred square brick meeting-houses. If a religious war could be expected in our later days, the only safeguard against that war would be the multiplying of sects, and the great numerical superiority of the sectarians. But if any bond could unite them, it would be the inextinguishable hatred of what they plainly call Popery. And in such a war, while one order was vainly seeking its Simon de Montfort, the other would have no difficulty in finding its Cromwell. If these be idle fears, at least that wise and noble mutual respect which is rising in all minds for those who are deep, and sincere, and active in religion, and especially where the views of what is religion are rational, enlightened—the best sign and the happiest augury of our times—that true toleration which is tenacious above all things of truth, but wisely patient of the slow advance of others to the same truth, would be trampled under foot and trodden out in the fierce conflict.
Will this be the worst ? Lay before the intelligent and educated—the higher classes ; lay before the intelligent whose education is practical life and experience, the artisans and manufacturers of England, the remorseless alternative—the Christianity of the Middle Ages, or none; subscribe the whole creed of Pope Pius, or renounce that of the Apostles ;what man of reason and common sense does not foreseewhat Christian does not shudder at the issue ?
We would close with one solemn and amicable question: Are we—the Roman Catholic and the Protestant Christian Churches -the sole competitors for dominion over the minds of men ? Is there not an Antichrist equally formidable to both ? Is this the best way of meeting our common adversary, this internecine, this irreconcilable strife among ourselves—this louder triumph, it should seem, over a few deserters from each other's ranks, than for the reclaiming a host of total unbelievers ? What is wanted is a Christianity—not for a few monks, or monk-like men; not for a small imaginative past-worshipping aristocracy; no, nor for a pious, unreasoning peasantry—but for men of the world (not of this world, as we may tauntingly be asserted to mean), but men who ever feel that their present sphere of duty, of virtue, of usefulness to mankind lies in this world on their way to a higher and better-men of intelligence, activity, of exemplary and wide-working goodness—men of faith, yet men of truth, to whom truth is of God, and to whom nothing is of God that is not true—men whose religion is not sadly and vainly retrospective, but present and hopefully prospective. It is our fixed persuasion that the Roman Catholic Church, that is, the Church of the Middle Ages, hereafter to the end of time, can be no more than a powerful sect (we mean no offence)—a sect, it may be, of increasing power ; but an all-comprehending, all-reconciling--a Catholic Church, in the only real sense of that phrase, it can never be. The shadow on the sundial of the King of Judah once went back ten degrees; the Jesuits once forced back the human mind for a certain period to the religion of the dark ages; but time resumed its natural course, and human intelligence will so pursue its onward way. The word of God is alone immutable, and that part of Christianity (however it may have been developed) which is the work of God, that alone has the power of endurance to the end of the world. The indwelling spirit of Christ, not confined to one narrow discipline, to one visible polity, is still to be developed in more abundant power, to exalt, to purify the Primal Idea of Christianity, the true, the eternal, the immutable, the real Dominus nobiscum' which is commingled with our humanity.
This is perhaps the most remarkable of the countless pamphlets and volumes called forth by the great religious controversy now raging in France; remarkable not only from the character and position of the author, whose manner of writing, with all its excellences and defects, is here displayed in singular distinctness ; but also as revealing more fully the real nature of the contest, the aims of the conflicting parties, the moral force at the command of either, the principles of (we fear) their irreconcilable hostility. Not, indeed, that we have any clear statement of M. Michelet's own religious views: his manifesto is sufficiently distinct on the points against which he wages war; on his terms of peace he is silent or vague. His work begins with these sentences : Il s'agit de la Famille.' In other words, the domestic happiness, and we will add (supposing M. Michelet to state the question fairly), if the domestic happiness, the virtue, of France is at issue. The home is in question—that asylum in which, after all its vain struggles and disappointed illusions, the heart would fain have repose. We return weary to our fireside—do we find repose? We must not dissemble; we must frankly avow the real state of things. There is within the family a serious difference; the most serious of all. We may converse with our mothers, our wives, our daughters, about subjects on which we converse with indifferent persons, on business, on the news of the day—but not on subjects which touch the heart and the moral life, on eternity, religion, the soul, and God. Take the moment when it would be most delightful to withdraw yourself with your family into some common subject of thought and feeling, in the quiet of the evening, around the family board. There, in your own home, by your own fireside, do you venture to speak on these subjects? Your mother shakes her head in sadness, your wife contradicts, your daughter shows her disapprobation by her silence: they are on one side of the table, you on the other, and alone. One would suppose, that in the midst of them, opposite to you, is seated some invisible person, to controvert all you say. Do we wonder that such is the state of the family? Our wives and daughters are brought up, are governed, by our enemies ;—the enemy, M. Michelet explains himself with unhesitating frankness, is the priest !
| Du Prêtre, de la Femme, de la Famille. Par J. Michelet. 5e édition Paris, 1845.
If we were about to throw ourselves headlong into this conflict, we should be much disposed (our readers must excuse the levity for the aptness of the illustration) to adopt in serious earnestness the prayer of the honest Irishman, who rushed into the thick of an irresistible fray, shouting, “God grant I may take the right side !' Such, however, is not our design; we have enough to do to keep the peace at home, without embarking in our neighbour's religious quarrels. Yet the Christianity of the whole world is bound together by deep and untraceable sympathies; it has many common interests, even where the interests appear most adverse ; many secret influences emanate from the most hostile forms of faith, which bring them into the most strange and unexpected relationship. There is an unity among the lovers of peace and true Christian love, which places men of the most opposite and conflicting views together upon a calm and commanding height. The same principles are at work under the most despotic and most democratic forms of Church polity. In the Free Church movement in Scotland there is a strong Hildebrandine element—and Ireland claims the right of resisting the infallible authority of Rome, when