Imágenes de página

is only by regarding these questions the conversion of Jews and Pagans themselves as of very secondary mo- appeared to the primitive Christians, ment, that the pacification, on which or as the conversion of the most re. M. Guizot insists, can be accomplished; probate of the outcasts of society, and and whenever this may happen, they vice versa. But M. Guizot would inwill all fade away into a colourless terdict this field of exertion both to neutrality.

Catholics and Protestants. Why? BeBut No, says M. Guizot; each of cause he would not have them molest the powers should preserve its distinc- those who have already a creed which tive characteristics. How, however, he considers, if it be sincerely and cor. being reconciled together, can this be ? dially embraced, quite sufficient to One of their most distinctive charac- answer every desirable purpose. He teristics is reciprocal opposition, as a would have religious impressions rife distinctive characteristic of the gospel among the populace, but cares not of in the earliest ages of the Church was what kind they are, so they be recog. opposition to Judaism, Paganism, and nised in Christendom. And he would the schools of the Philosophers. M. have this view adopted by religionists Guizot's argument is absurd, and at who hold the most opposite doctrines. contradiction with itself. If it be He would urge upon them the utmost worth any thing, the apostles at that zeal in the propagation of what they period alluded to, should have carefully deem truth, and impose upon them, at preserved all the distinctive character, the same time, complete carelessness istics of their doctrine, and made peace with respect to the errors which corat the same time with the Jews, Pagans, rupt and destroy the truths for which and Sophists. They should have said they are incited to be so zealous. He to the devout Jews, go you and preach would thus mate an enthusiastic earthe Mosaic laws, we shall not interfere nestness with a sterile indifference. with you ; and to the devout Pagans, A grosser contradiction cannot be go you and preach your gods and conceived. idolatries, we shall not interfere with But it is easy to divine the thought you; and to the Philosophers, go you of his heart. It is this: That Catho. and enlighten the world with your phi. licism, Protestantism, and creedlesslosophy, we shall not interfere with ness, which he calls Philosophy, have you. We shall merely address our- all good in them, if not in equal measelves to the rabble, who believe in sures. He perceives that they have nothing, and who have no philosophy. each certain properties, and produce And then they would have established certain effects which he has noted as exactly the same kind of pacification beneficial. He has observed that the that M. Guizot recommends now. He religious sentiment, even where it is would have Catholics, Protestants, and denied, is common to them all; and it is Philosophers, all act on this system. this sentiment that he would desire to He would have them avoid all disputes see cultivated. Whatever developeand controversy. Controversy, he ment it may assume, at least within assures us, has never done any great the range of Christian and philosogood, and asserts, in a passage which phic denomination, is to him equal. we have omitted, that it was never He wishes spiritual conviction to called into prominent action till the abound in society, but whilst he would time of the Reformation, though it is allow these convictions to attach them. evident from the Acts of the Apostles, selves to particular tenets and forms of and the Epistles of St Paul, that the worship, he would bave it, nevertheinspired ambassadors of Christ were less, admitted without dispute, that, engaged, almost incessantly during in their generality, under all their their arduous lives, in controversial guises, their operation is most excel. discussions with all gainsayers.

lent. The substance of religion he M. Guizot will not, of course,

admit sees solely in a vague sentiment, rethe justice of the parallel we have sulting in some determined persuasion drawn between the Christians, Jews, of the mind; its doctrines he looks and Pagans of ancient times, and the upon as mere accidents. Protestants and Catholics of the pre- And this view is one very comsent day; and yet the comparison is a monly adopted by those who call just one. The conversion of Papists themselves, in a large and liberal will ever be in the estimation of ge- sense, as they say, the friends of relinuine Protestants as deeply needful as gion. They do, no doubt, recollert that Jews and Pagans, Stoics and damental doctrines, and such compaEpicurians, and all the other nume- rative trifles--with these broad generous worshippers and philosophers of ralities, on which all are agreed, and antiquity, entertained each the kind on which the cause of vital religion is of sentiments and the kind of convic. represented to depend. tions they insist upon as constituting It is impossible to put any other the essence of religious truth. But construction than this on M. Guizot's this consideration does not at all dis- scheme of religious and philosophic turb their theory. Why? Because pacification in France. But how is it there is a profound incredulity at the that he is blind to the fact, that this bottom of all their speculations which scheme, though now for the first time have a theological aspect. They re- formally and dogmatically announced gard Christianity chiefly as a histori- and recommended, has, without the cal fact-a fact, they are willing to expenditure of either wisdom or wit, avow, which has been prolific of im- logic or religious zeal towards its mense benefit to mankind. In this sense promotion, been in active operation they may deem it divine, and call it, in that country for at least half a with some sincerity, a revelation ; but century? He gives a most eloquent that it is a revelation in the rigorous and fearful picture of the feverous signification of that term,—that it con- unbelief, not disbelief, and the consetains an absolute and essential rule quent extreme demoralization of mind and standard of right and wrong with which prevails among the overwhelmrespect to the spiritual and moral na. ing majority of his countrymen; but ture of man; that such a rule and in what, we ask, has this state of standard is any where to be found; mind originated, but in the attenuathat natural truisms do not compre- tion and dilution of all decided and hend the substance of religion; that definite doctrines and opinions with the doctrines of the Gospel are not reference to revelation ? Superstition mere accommodations and helps to produces one effect; infidelity, or a the one universal sentiment of which positive denial of the truth of revela. we have spoken, which pervades all tion, another; and latitudinarianism, bosoms; that they are not, therefore, or a willingness to admit and to inter. plastic to manifold meanings of a fuse the claims to acceptance of di. Protean complexion ; of a chamelion verse creeds, a third ; and it is with changefulness, compliant to every va

this last evil of which M. Guizot comriety of temperament and humour, plains that French society is at present and to the social and political changes labouring ; yet the remedy he proof the world—they have no notion. poses, is to carry the evil out to its utChristianity appears to them princi. most extent. He fancies, that when pally admirable from its vagueness; it has reached its climax, fervour will and its divinity they emphatically see coalesce with indifference ; that the in this : viz. tbat, whether Catholic false proverb, as old as the hills, " that or Protestant, philosopher or infidel, all religions are equally true and good, civil society has been much improved if they be embraced with sincerity," by its influence.

which is the burden of his essay from We repeat, however, that this elas beginning to end, and which, limiting tic conception of the Christian faith, the scope of this proverb to the faith with whatever plausibility it may be of Christendom, he sets forth as a disput forward, is rooted in incredulity. covery, would, if cordially received as It proclaims that there is nothing an unquestionable axiom, kindle an positive and specific in Revelation of ardour in each separate class of reliany paramount value ; that its general gionists devotedly to propagate their propositions alone which respond to a peculiar tenets. This is the jet of his common feeling and common want in scheme. The scheme itself has, as we the heart of man, are important; that bave said, been long, and is at present, all the rest is conventional; conve- working spontaneously in various nient it may be or not ; for the most parts of the world, to the production of part effectively useful within a proper consequences the very reverse of those narrow sphere ; but always to be which M. Guizot contemplates. But kept in the back.ground, and never it has not certainly yet attained that suffered to interfere, by wranglings full-orbed completion which he anticiabout its minor matters-differences pates for it, and would urge forward. about what people foolishly call fun. When that consummation arrives, which seems, indeed, to be fast ripen- ed to the term social state ? If so, ing, we may see truly much sham we affirm, what no one will deny, in conviction, and much futile ardour, contradiction to his arguinent, that strong seeming attachments to parti- the social state of every community, cular systems of belief, fantastically so far from being disconnected from conceived, combined with a general its religion and its philosophy, is embracement of them all in one bond mainly derived, constituted, and deof fraternization. In brief, mysti- veloped, from these two sources. cism, which flimsifies religion and what- If, however, we are mistaken in ever it touches into transcendental both our conjectures with respect sentimentalities, which regards all to the interpretation he would have creeds as bare administrations of occult attached to the words “social state," verities, and which, therefore, can see as, upon a reperusal of his essay, we truth everywhere and error nowhere, are persuaded we are,—if by that will be ascendant. By this mysticism, term he means neither the governthe accordance, or rather the collu- ment nor the general condition of the sion,—the harmony in liberty,-be- nation, but emphatically that strong tween all churches and all ideas, bias of the popular mind which is of which M. Guizot speaks, may doubt. called “the spirit of the age,"— then we less be brought about. Whether he would say, leaving philosophy at preaims at this result or not his scheme sent out of the question, that if relimost assuredly tends towards its real- gion rules not the strength of man, the ization,

soonerits influence is altogether shaken But that distinguished person goes off the better ; but if it should rule this on to mention a further power, in ad strength, the mention of any other dition to the three already named, to power which is to exert an independwhich we beg now to direct the at- ent force can result only from the tention of our readers. This fourth extremest confusion of understanding, power he calls our new social state," or from a desire to perplex and mysand keeps it aloof and apart from the tify the understandings of the simple. other three. And if by the words If religion labours under an incapa“social state," he means merely state, city of accompanying and giving if he alludes to a form of government, moral guidance to the mind in all its the administration of public affairs, developements, there is no truth in according to constitutional principles, her; and those who make the dishis distinction holds good, as certainly tinction M. Guizot has made, and in. every state regarded in the light of a sist upon relegating the religious and legal legislative and executive autho- the working, discursive, enterprising, rity is separated in its nature and in speculative intellect of a country, its functions from the religious and with which society ferments and is intellectual convictions and proceed- moved (consecrating the latter as a ings of its subjects, so long as thereby separate power), to different spheres legal morality and civil order are not of action, prove thereby their thocontravened. But when we find join. rough disbelief in the Christian Reed to the word “ state" the word velation. “ social," an altogether different sig. We admit, nevertheless, that this nification is conveyed. The term separate power, of which the French social state includes in its meaning, statesman speaks, does exist—that it is not merely the public institutions, daily on the increase—that it is tribut the manners, morals, the style of umphing, and is likely still further to thinking, the habits of life, the pre- triumph, especially in France ; but far vailing character and situation, do- from recognising in the existence of mestic as well as political, of a whole this fact, as he does, matter of hope ; people. And it is in this sense, we far from according to it, not merely take it, that M. Guizot uses the our acquiescence, but our approving phrase, for he makes it synonymous admiration; far from considering it as with the France of the Charte, and sacredly excellent, as an element of with 66

new Society," neither national energy, pregnant with beneof which expressions can describe fits to succeeding generations, we rebarely a government. Are we, there. gard it as a most terrific evil, as the fore, to believe that we have put the EVIL which is the spring-head of all right construction on his words in others which afflict nations and indithe true meaning we have affix. viduals, and which it is the grand



work of religion to grapple with and of them the right path, and in none of

them the wrong indicated; but mainYet, in the spirit of the view M. tains that they all contain such a con. Guizot has taken, viz. that the power fused mixture of both, that any prewhich he calls “ our new social state" ference that may be made between is to occupy that master-position in them is a matter for private taste to the government of the world's heart decide upon, and not for any graver which has been occupied heretofore or more comprehensive judgment. He by religion, or by a strong anti-reli- sees neither warning beacons nor gious reaction, one understands why guiding lights any where. he places creeds the most at variance And yet, surely, those fundamental with each other on the same level, for, opinions and views of men, which ocin accordance with his doctrine, they casion such immense distinctions, not can have but a ministerial underwork only betwixt individuals, but betwixt to perform, and it must be of extreme- whole nations, merit the most intense ly small consequence which of them and conscientious attention on the part has the precedence, when they are in- of statesmen. These high persons differently to be overtopped by a dis- cannot, if they deserve their name, be tinct supreme influence, under whose neutral on such topics, but must, if shadow only they are to act.

they are not mere pretenders, enterBut this is all a base juggle of words, tain thereupon the most distinct and the perfect quackery of rhetoric, and positive convictions ; not that thereby M. Guizot knows it to be so. He liberty of conscience or of intellect knows very well, that the genius of may be restrained, but that they may every people, and all their national discern wherein the true moral wel. destinies, are characterised complete fare of a community consists; and then ly by the religious and philosophic by reason and by eloquence, and by tenets which are received among them. every unforced means, encourage the It would have been a task, then, worthy growth and spread of those principles of his high reputation, of his talent, which they may deem most salutary. and especially of his position, to have And this is the work which M. Gni. shown how the three powers he speaks zot seemed pointed out by Providence of have operated on society. With all to perform in France. He might have the experience of history before him, passed in grand circumspective rehe could not have failed to have traced view-a work for which his propenthe effects of each up to their respective sity for generalizing renders him pefountain-heads. He had Italy and culiarly apt- the aberrations of his Spain, affording an unexceptionable country from Christianity, both in Poillustration of the unqualified working pery and Infidelity ; be might have of Catholicism; he had France, to shown how all the noble qualities exemplify the fruits of that infidelity with which God has endowed her nawhich he calls philosophy ; and he had tives have been exaggerated and disPrussia, Holland, England, and Ame. torted into curses by these two maligrica, exhibiting palpably the results of nant stars of her destiny; and he Protestantism. But he has not ful- might have put it to his countrymen, filled the task which his subject, to be seriously to ask themselves whether fairly and instructively treated, im. there is no excellent medium to be posed upon him. He has skimmed it found between superstition and incremost superficially over. He has dis- dulity, other than a barren indifference, criminated only to shuffle his discri. or a fantastic metaphysical mysticism. minations up together in a common And it must be confessed too, that heap, the moment after he has made France is well disposed to listen to them. He concludes nothing either reasonings and exhortations of this against or in favour of any one of the kind respecting her mental and relithree powers he has mentioned above gious state. It is now more than half the others. From the three great a century since she freed herself from master-lessons which Christendom, the bond-slavery of Romanism in all through the long travail of centuries, but the name; she has got weary, too, has brought forth and furnished to of the sterile negations of infidelity; mankind, he has determined to learn a certain blind reaction has taken nothing, to infer nothing, but that place in her bosom towards religion ; these lessons should mutually neutral- sbe invokes even the superstition ize each other. He perceives in none which she ere while abominated and threw away; which comes not, how. tional councils. But Protestantism ever, at her call, though painfully has possessed it, and may continue to mimicked, and showing signs of ani. possess it, in lands where civil freedom mation as a galvanized corpse may has been carried out to its greatest imitate the motions of life. She pre. lengths, and where almost every indifers the grossest absurdities of credu- vidual has a voice in public affairs. lity to the craving void which unbe- And, as we at present speak of nalief leaves in the heart ; and feels that tions, we maintain, from this historic general sickening swell of fatigued experience, that Protestantism is the thought, of disappointed hope, of baf- last stronghold of Christianity. Those, fled efforts, which, from the very therefore, who are not bigoted Cathoprostration, not final exhaustion, the lics, and yet take not up their firm very fluctuating indecision of mind stand upon Protestant ground, show it produces, is most favourable to the thereby that there is some vague tenreception of a new mould and recast dency of hope within them, some of character.

blind inclination in their hearts which Mean-time Protestantism has ex- would realize an unknown state of perienced a partial but most promise things beyond even Christianity iting revival within the French terri. self. tory. It is unknown, also, otherwise And this reflection, we believe, furthan historically to Frenchmen in ge- nishes the key to unlock the meaning neral. And M. Guizot being a Pro- of M. Guizot's production, now un. testant, it certainly became him at der our consideration, from all the inthis crisis, so full of hope and of fear, tricate involutions of words in which in this season of transition, which must he has shut it up. He talks abunterminate, after no considerable inter. dantly of religion, and of the weakest val, in the developement of some new and most contemptible kind of philoaspect of French energies, to recom- sophism, the scorn of all but the small. mend his own creed to the anxious est fry of witlings, which he doubles enquiries of his countrymen. That up with Christian creeds, holding it, they want religion, he confesses; and as may be thence inferred, as of no he declares also, in the very Essay on unequal importance with divine revewhich we are commenting, that Catho- lation itself; whilst it is evident, from licism is only fitted for mental imbeci- this very impious association of prolity, whilst the reformed faith exercises fane and sacred things, that there is strongly the intelligence. And he must some towering conception within the know that a religion which does not ken of his mental vision before which strongly take possession of the mind, he deems Christianity, under its every which carries not with it the consent denomination, should shrink into insigof the reason, which is not excogitated nificance. with respect to the evidences of its This perspective, too, explains why, truth, must be, at the present time, though a Protestant, M. Guizot seems perfectly futile ; that mankind cannot to give his preference to Catholicism. be lulled back again into the dreami. That appalling corruption of the gospel ness of passive credulity; or that, if interferes not, or rather can interfere the weakest portion of a community no longer, with reason; and that being may be so drugged into a treacherous the case, it forms a most delectable dormancy, the activities of a people, paradise of shadows, where fatigued all their energies which make them and exhausted intellects may find rewhat they may be, cannot be control. pose, where the imagination may be led and directed by religious convic. recreated, and where the conscience tions which are not intellectual as well of man towards God may be stilled by as spiritual, which will not bear ex- a retreat into a religious recess, out of amination, and which do not obtain a the sphere of thought, a recess of enmanifest superiority and mastery over chantments suited to all tempers and their leading mundane thoughts and all tastes, where even the learned and speculations. Now Catholicism can the active may love to retire at odd never again obtain this sort of supre- moments from the labour of mental ex. macy, which she owed formerly dur- ertion to the supine enjoyment of an ing the dark middle ages sheerly to indolent religiosity. These are charms ignorance, and to the despotic rule of and qualities which Protestantism poskings and priests, before the will of sesses not. That creed, on the conthe multitude had any weight in na- trary, is apt to be extremely importu

« AnteriorContinuar »