Win assent in the end the new construction will, but not at once; and there will be a passage-time of confusion first. It is not for nothing, as we have said, that people take short cuts and tell themselves fairy-tales, because the immense scale of the history of 'bringing in everlasting righteousness' is too much for their narrow minds. It is not for nothing; they pay for it. It is not for nothing that they found religion on prediction and miracle, guarantee it by preternatural interventions and the coming of the Son of Man in the clouds, consummate it by a banquet with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, in a city shining with gold and precious stones. They are like people who have fed their minds on novels or their stomachs on opium; the reality of things is fiat and insipid to them, although it is in truth far grander than the phantasmagorical world of novels and of opium. But it is long before the novel-reader or the opium-eater can rid himself of his bad habits, and brace his nerves, and recover the tone of his mind enough to perceive it. Distress and despair at the loss of his accustomed stimulant are his first sensations.
Miracles, the mainstay of popular religion, are touched by Ithuriel's spear. They are beginning to dissolve; but what are we to expect during the process of dissolution? Probably, amongst many religious people, vehement efforts at reaction, a recrudescence of superstition; the passionate resolve to keep hold on what is slipping away from them by giving up more and more the use of reason in religion, and by resting more and more on authority. The Church of Rome is the great upholder of authority as against reason in religion; and it will be strange if in the coming time of transition the Church of Rome does not gain.
But for many more than those whom Rome attracts there will be an interval, between the time when men accept the religion of the Bible as a thaumaturgy and the time when they perceive it to be something different, in which they will be prone to throw aside the religion of the Bible altogether as a delusion. And this, again, will be mainly the fault,—if fault that can be called which was an inevitable error,—of the religious people themselves, who, from the time of the Apostles downwards, have insisted upon it that religion shall be a thaumaturgy or nothing. For very many, therefore, when it cannot be a thaumaturgy, it will be nothing. And very likely there will come a day when there will be less religion than even now. For the religion of the Bible is so simple and powerful, that even those who make the Bible a thaumaturgy get hold of the religion, because they read the Bible; but, if men do not read the Bible, they cannot get hold of it. And then will be fulfilled the saying of the prophet Amos: 'Behold, the days come, saith the Eternal, that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the Eternal; and they shall wander from sea to sea, and from the north even to the east they shall run to and fro to seek the word of the Eternal, and shall not find it.'
Nevertheless, as after this mournful prophecy the herds man of Tekoah goes on to say: 'There shall yet not the least grain of Israel fall to the earth!' To the Bible men will return; and why? Because they cannot do without it. Because happiness is our being's end and aim, and happiness belongs to righteousness, and righteousness is revealed in the Bible. For this simple reason men will return to the Bible, just as a man who tried to give up food, thinking it was a vain thing and he could do without it, would return to food; or a man who tried to give up sleep, thinking it was a vain thing and he could do without it, would return to sleep. Then there will come a time of reconstruction; and then, perhaps, will be the moment for labors, like this attempt of ours, to be found useful. For though everyone must read the Bible for himself, and the perfect criticism of it is an immense matter, and it may be possible to go much beyond what we here achieve or can achieve, yet the method for reading the Bible we, as we hope and believe, here give. And although, in this or that detail, the construction we put upon the Bible may be wrong, yet the main lines of the construction will be found, we hope and believe, right; and the reader who has the main lines may easily amend the details for himself.
Meanwhile to popular Christianity, from those who can see its errors, is due an indulgence inexhaustible, except where limits are required to it for the good of religion itself. Two considerations make this indulgence right. One is, that the language of the Bible being,—which is the great point a sound criticism establishes against dogmatic theology,—approximate, not scientific, in all expressions of religious feeling approximate language is lawful, and indeed is all we can attain to. It cannot be adequate, more or less proper it can be; but, in general, approximate language consecrated by use and religious feeling acquires therefrom a propriety of its own. This is the first consideration. The second is, that on both the 'method' and the 'secret' of Jesus popular Christianity in no contemptible measure both can and does, as we have said, lay hold, in spite of its inadequate criticism of the Bible. Now, to lay hold on the method and secret of Jesus is a very great thing; an inadequate criticism of the Bible is a comparatively small one.
Certainly this consideration should govern our way of regarding many things in popular Christianity;—its missions, for instance. The non-Christian religions are not to the wise man mere monsters; he knows they have much good and truth in them. He knows that Mahometanism, and Brahminism, and Buddhism, are not what the missionaries call them; and he knows, too, how really unfit the missionaries are to cope with them. For any one who weighs the matter well, the missionary in clerical coat and gaiters whom one sees in wood-cuts preaching to a group of picturesque Orientals, is, from the inadequacy of his criticism both of his hearers' religion and of his own, and his signal misunderstanding of the very Volume he holds in his hand, a hardly less grotesque object in his intellectual equipment for his task than in his outward attire. Yet everyone allows that this strange figure carries something of what is called European civilization with him, and a good part of this is due to Christianity. But even the Christianity itself that he preaches, imbedded in a false theology though it be, cannot but contain, in a greater or lesser measure as it may happen, these three things: the all-importance of righteousness, the method of Jesus, the secret of Jesus. No Christianity that is ever preached but manages to carry something of these along with it.
And if it carries them to Mahometanism, they are carried where of the all-importance of righteousness there is a knowledge, but of the method and secret of Jesus, by which alone is righteousness possible, hardly any sense at all. If it carries them to Brahminism, they are carried where of the all-importance of righteousness, the foundation of the whole matter, there is a wholly insufficient sense; and where religion is, above all, that metaphysical conception, or metaphysical play, so dear to the Aryan genius and to M. Emile Burnouf. If it carries them to Buddhism, they are carried to a religion to be saluted with respect, indeed; for it has not only the sense for righteousness, it has, even, it has the secret of Jesus. But it employs the secret ill, because greatly wanting, in the method, because utterly wanting in the sweet reasonableness, the unerring balance, the epieikeia. Therefore to all whom it visits, the Christianity of our missions, inadequate as may be its criticism of the Bible, brings what may do them good. And if it brings the Bible itself, it brings what may not only help the good preached, but may also with time dissipate the erroneous criticism which accompanies this and impairs it. All this is to be said for popular religion; and it all makes in favour of treating popular religion tenderly, of sparing it as much as possible, of trusting to time and indirect means to transform it, rather than to sudden, violent changes.
Learned religion, however, the pseudo-science of dogmatic theology, merits no such indulgence. It is a separable accretion, which never had any business to be attached to Christianity, never did it any good, and now does it great harm, and thickens an hundredfold the religious confusion in which we live. Attempts to adopt it, to put a new sense into it, to make it plausible, are the most misspent labor in the world. Certainly no religious reformer who tries it, or has tried it, will find his work live.
Nothing is more common, indeed, than for religious writers, who have a strong sense of the genuine and moral side of Christianity, and who much enlarge on the preeminence of this, to put themselves right, as it were, with dogmatic theology, by a passing sentence expressing profound belief in its dogmas, though in discussing them, it is implied, there is little profit. So Mr. Erskine of Linlathen, that unwearying and much-revered exponent of the moral side of the Bible: 'It seems difficult,' he says, 'to conceive that any man should read through the New Testament candidly and attentively, without being convinced that the doctrine of the Trinity is essential to and implied in every part of the system.' Even already many readers of Mr. Erskine feel, when they come across such a sentence as that, as if they had suddenly taken gravel or sand into their mouth. Twenty years hence this feeling will be far stronger; the reader will drop the book, saying that certainly it can avail him nothing. So, also, Bunsen was fond of maintaining, putting some peculiar meaning of his own into the words, that the whole of Christianity was in the Lutheran doctrine of justification by faith. Thus, too, the Bishop of Exeter chooses to say that his main objection to keeping the Athanasian Creed is, that it endangers the doctrine of the Trinity, which is so important. Mr. Maurice, again, that pure and devout spirit,—of whom, however, the truth must at last be told, that in theology he passed his life beating the bush with deep emotion and never starting the hare,—Mr. Maurice declared that by reading between the lines he saw in the Thirty-nine Articles and the Athanasian Creed the altogether perfect expression of the Christian faith.
But all this is mischievous as well as vain. It is vain, because it is meant to conciliate the so-called orthodox, and it does not conciliate them. Of his attachment to the doctrine of the Trinity the Bishop of Exeter may make what protestations he will, Archdeacon Denison will still smell a rat in them; and the time has passed when Bunsen's Evangelical phrases could fascinate the Evangelicals. Such language, however, does also actual harm, because it proceeds from a misunderstanding and prolongs it. For it may be well to read between the lines of a man laboring with an experience he cannot utter; but to read between the lines of a notion-work is absurd, for it is of the essence of a notion-work not to need it. And the Athanasian Creed is a notion-work, of which the fault is that its basis is a chimæra. It is an application of the forms of Greek logic to a chimæra, its own notion of the Trinity, a notion unestablished, not resting on observation and experience, but assumed to be given in Scripture, yet not really given there. Indeed the very expression, the Trinity, jars with the whole idea and character of Bible-religion. But, lest the Unitarian should be unduly elated at hearing this, let us hasten to add that so too, and just as much, does the expression, a Great Personal First Cause.
Learned pseudo-science applied to the data of the Bible is best called plainly what it is,—utter blunder; criticism of the same order, and of which the futility will one day be just as visible, as that criticism about the two swords which some way back we quoted. To try to tinker such criticism only makes matters worse. The best way is to throw it aside altogether, and forget it as fast as possible. This is what the good of religion demands, and what all the enemies of religion would most deprecate. The hour for softening down, and explaining away, is passed; the whole false notion-work has to go. Mild defenses of it leave on the mind a sense of the defender's hopeless inability to perceive our actual situation; violent defenses read, alas! only like 'a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.'
But the great work to be done for the better time which will arrive, and for the time of transition which will precede it, is not a work of destruction, but to show that the truth is really, as it is, incomparably higher, grander, more wide and deep-reaching, than the Aberglaube and false science which it displaces.
The propounders of 'The Great Personal First Cause, who thinks and loves,' are too modest when they sometimes say, taking their lesson from the Bible, that, after all, man can know next to nothing of the Divine nature. They do themselves signal injustice; they themselves know, according to their own statements, a great deal, far too much. They know so much, that they make of God a magnified and non-natural man; and when this leads them into difficulties, and they think to escape from these by saying that God's ways are not man's ways, they do not succeed in making their God cease to resemble a man, they only make him resemble a man puzzled. But the truth is, that one may have a great respect for man, and yet be permitted, even however much he be magnified, to imagine something far beyond him. And this is the good of such an unpretending definition of God as ours: the Eternal Power, not ourselves, that makes for righteousness;—it leaves the infinite to the imagination, and to the gradual efforts of countless ages of men, slowly feeling after more of it and finding it. Ages and ages hence, no such adequate definition of the infinite not ourselves will yet be possible, as any sciolist of a theologian will now pretend to rattle you off in a moment. But on one point of the operation of this not ourselves we are clear: that it makes for conduct, righteousness. So far we know God, that he is 'the Eternal that loveth righteousness;' and the farther we go in righteousness, the more we shall know him.
And as this true and authentic God of Israel is far grander than the God of popular religion, so is his real affirmation of himself in human affairs far grander than that poor machinery of prediction and miracle, by which popular religion imagines that he affirms himself. The greatness of the scale on which he operates makes it hard for men to follow him; but the greatness of the scale, too, makes the grandeur of the operation. Take the Scripture-promises and their accomplishment. As the whirlwind passeth, so is the wicked no more; but the righteous is an everlasting foundation. And again: They shall call Jerusalem the throne of the Eternal, and all the nations shall be gathered unto it. It is objected that this is not fulfilled. It is not fulfilled yet, because the whole career of the human race has to bring out its fulfilment, and this career is still going forward. 'Men are impatient, and for precipitating things,' says Butler; and Davison, whom on a former occasion I quoted to differ from him,—Davison, not the least memorable of that Oriel group, whose reputation I, above most people, am bound to cherish,—says with a weighty and noble simplicity worthy of Butler: 'Conscience and the present constitution of things are not corresponding terms; it is conscience and the issue of things which go together.' It is so; and this is what makes the spectacle of human affairs so edifying and so sublime. Give time enough for the experience, and experimentally and demonstrably it is true, that 'the path of the just is as the shining light which shineth more and more unto the perfect day.' Only the limits for the experience are wider than people commonly think. 'Yet a little while, and the ungodly shall be clean gone!' but 'a little while' according to the scope and working of that mighty Power to which a thousand years are as one day. The world goes on, nations and men arrive and depart, with varying fortune, as it appears, with time and chance happening unto all. Look a little deeper, and you will see that one strain runs through it all: nations and men, whoever is shipwrecked, is shipwrecked on conduct. It is the God of Israel steadily and irresistibly asserting himself; the Eternal that loveth righteousness.
In this sense we should read the Hebrew prophets. They did not foresee and foretell curious coincidences, but they foresaw and foretold this inevitable triumph of righteousness. First, they foretold it for all the men and nations of their own day, and especially for those colossal unrighteous kingdoms of the heathen world, which looked everlasting; then, for all time. 'As the whirlwind passeth, so is the wicked no more;'—sooner or later it is, it must be, so. Hebrew prophecy is never read aright until it is read in this sense, which indeed of itself it cries out for; it is, as Davison, again, finely says, impatient for the larger scope. How often, throughout the ages, how often, even, by the Hebrew prophets themselves, has some immediate visible interposition been looked for! 'I looked,' they make God say, 'and there was no man to help, and I wondered that there was none to uphold; therefore mine own arm brought salvation unto me. The day of vengeance is in mine heart, the year of my redeemed is come.' O long-delaying arm of might, will the Eternal never put thee forth, to smite these sinners who go on as if righteousness mattered nothing? There is no need; they are smitten. Down they come, one after another; Assyria falls, Babylon, Greece, Rome; they all fall for want of conduct, righteousness. 'The heathen make much ado, and the kingdoms are moved; but God hath showed his voice, and the earth doth melt away.'
Nay, but Judæa itself, the Holy Land, the land of God's Israel, perishes too,—and perishes for want of righteousness. Yes, Israel's visible Jerusalem is in ruins; and how, then, shall men call Jerusalem 'the throne of the Eternal, and all the nations shall be gathered unto it?' But the true Israel was Israel the bringer-in and defender of the idea of conduct, Israel the lifter-up to the nations of the banner of righteousness. The true Jerusalem was the city of this ideal Israel. And this ideal Israel could not and cannot perish, so long as its idea, righteousness and its necessity, does not perish, but prevails. Now, that it does prevail, the whole course of the world proves, and the fall of the actual Israel is of itself witness. Thus, therefore, the ideal Israel for ever lives and prospers; and its city is the city whereunto all nations and languages, after endless trials of everything else except conduct, after incessantly attempting to do without righteousness and failing, are slowly but surely gathered.
To this Israel are the promises, and to this Israel they are fulfilled. 'The nation and kingdom that will not serve thee shall perish, yea, those nations shall be utterly wasted.' It is so; since all history is an accumulation of experiences that what men and nations fall by is want of conduct. To call it by this plain name is often not amiss, for the thing is never more great than when it is looked at in its simplicity and reality. Yet the true name to touch the soul is the name Israel gave: righteousness. And to Israel, as the representative of this imperishable and saving idea of righteousness, all the promises come true, and the language of none of them is pitched too high. The Eternal, Israel says truly, is on my side. 'Fear not, thou worm Jacob, and thou handful Israel! I will help thee, saith the Eternal. Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands, thy walls are continually before me. The Eternal hath chosen Zion; O pray for the peace of Jerusalem! they shall prosper that love thee. Men shall call Jerusalem the throne of the Eternal, and all the nations shall be gathered unto it. And he will destroy in this mountain the face of the covering cast over all people, and the veil that is spread over all nations; he will swallow up death in victory. And it shall be said in that day: Lo, this is our God! this is the Eternal, we have waited for him, we will be glad and rejoice in his salvation.'
And if Assyria and Babylon seem too remote, let us look nearer home for testimonies to the inexhaustible grandeur and significance of the Old Testament revelation, according to that construction which we here put upon it. Every educated man loves Greece, owes gratitude to Greece. Greece was the lifter-up to the nations of the banner of art and science, as Israel was the lifter-up of the banner of righteousness. Now, the world cannot do without art and science. And the lifter-up of the banner of art and science was naturally much occupied with them, and conduct was a homely plain matter. Not enough heed, therefore, was given by him to conduct. But conduct, plain matter as it is, is six-eighths of life, while art and science are only two-eighths. And this brilliant Greece perished for lack of attention enough to conduct; for want of conduct, steadiness, character. And there is this difference between Greece and Judæa: both were custodians of a revelation, and both perished; but Greece perished of over-fidelity to her revelation, and Judæa perished of under-fidelity to hers. Nay, and the victorious revelation now, even now,—in this age when more of beauty and more of knowledge are so much needed, and knowledge, at any rate, is so highly esteemed,—the revelation which rules the world even now, is not Greece's revelation, but Judæa's; not the pre-eminence of art and science, but the pre-eminence of righteousness.
It reminds one of what is recorded of Abraham, before the true inheritor of the promises, the humble and homely Isaac, was born. Abraham looked upon the vigorous, bold, brilliant young Ishmael, and said appealingly to God: 'Oh that Ishmael might live before thee!' But it cannot be; the promises are to conduct, conduct only. And so, again, we in like manner behold, long after Greece has perished, a brilliant successor of Greece, the Renascence, present herself with high hopes. The preachers of righteousness, blunderers as they often were, had for centuries had it all their own way. Art and science had been forgotten, men's minds had been enslaved, their bodies macerated. But the gloomy, oppressive dream is now over. 'Let us return to Nature!' And all the world salutes with pride and joy the Renascence, and prays to Heaven: 'Oh that Ishmael might live before thee!' Surely the future belongs to this brilliant new-comer, with his animating maxim: Let us return to Nature! Ah, what pitfalls are in that word Nature! Let us return to art and science, which are a part of Nature; yes. Let us return to a proper conception of righteousness, to a true use of the method and secret of Jesus, which have been all denaturalized; yes. But, 'Let us return to Nature;'—do you mean that we are to give full swing to our inclinations, to throw the reins on the neck of our senses, of those sirens whom Paul the Israelite called 'the deceiving lusts,' and of following whom he said, 'Let no man beguile you with vain words, for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience'? Do you mean that conduct is not three-fourths of life, and that the secret of Jesus has no use? And the Renascence did mean this, or half meant this; so disgusted was it with the cowled and tonsured Middle Age. And it died of it, this brilliant Ishmael died of it! it died of provoking a collision with the homely Isaac, righteousness. On the Continent came the Catholic re-action; in England, as we have said elsewhere, 'the great middle class, the kernel of the nation, entered the prison of Puritanism, and had the key turned upon its spirit there for two hundred years.' After too much glorification of art, science, and culture, too little; after Rabelais, George Fox.
France, again, how often and how impetuously for France has the prayer gone up to Heaven: 'Oh that Ishmael might live before thee!' It is not enough perceived what it is which gives to France her attractiveness for everybody, and her success, and her repeated disasters. France is l'homme sensuel moyen, the average sensual man; Paris is the city of l'homme sensuel moyen. This has an attraction for all of us. We all have in us this homme sensuel, the man of the 'wishes of the flesh and of the current thoughts;' but we develop him under checks and doubts, and unsystematically and often grossly. France, on the other hand, develops him confidently and harmoniously. She makes the most of him, because she knows what she is about and keeps in a mean, as her climate is in a mean, and her situation. She does not develop him with madness, into a monstrosity, as the Italy of the Renascence did; she develops him equably and systematically. And hence she does not shock people with him but attracts them; she names herself the France of tact and measure, good sense, logic. In a way, this is true. As she develops the senses, the apparent self, all round, in good faith, without misgivings, without violence, she has much reasonableness and clearness in all her notions and arrangements; a sort of balance even in conduct; as much art and science, and it is not a little, as goes with the ideal of l'homme sensuel moyen. And from her ideal of the average sensual man France has deduced her famous gospel of the Rights of Man, which she preaches with such an infinite crowing and self-admiration. France takes 'the wishes of the flesh and of the current thoughts' for a man's rights; and human happiness, and the perfection of society, she places in everybody's being enabled to gratify these wishes, to get these rights, as equally as possible and as much as possible. In Italy, as in ancient Greece, the satisfying development of this ideal of the average sensual man is broken by the imperious ideal of art and science disparaging it; in the Germanic nations, by the ideal of morality disparaging it. Still, whenever, as often happens, the pursuers of these higher ideals are a little weary of them or unsuccessful with them, they turn with a sort of envy and admiration to the ideal set up by France,—so positive, intelligible, and, up to a certain point, satisfying. They are inclined to try it instead of their own, although they can never bring themselves to try it thoroughly, and therefore well. But this explains the great attraction France exercises upon the world. All of us feel, at some time or other in our lives, a hankering after the French ideal, a disposition to try it. More particularly is this true of the Latin nations; and therefore everywhere, among these nations, you see the old indigenous type of city disappearing, and the type of modern Paris, the city of l'homme sensuel moyen, replacing it. La Bohéme, the ideal, free, pleasurable life of Paris, is a kind of Paradise of Ishmaels. And all this assent from every quarter, and the clearness and apparent reasonableness of their ideal besides, fill the French with a kind of ecstatic faith in it, a zeal almost fanatical for propagating what they call French civilization everywhere, for establishing its predominance, and their own predominance along with it, as of the people entrusted with an oracle so showy and taking. Oh that Ishmael might live before thee! Since everybody has something which conspires with this Ishmael, his success, again and again, seems to be certain. And again and again he seems drawing near to a worldwide success, nay, to have succeeded;—but always, at this point, disaster overtakes him, he signally breaks down. At this crowning moment, when all seems triumphant with him, comes what the Bible calls a crisis or judgment. Now is the judgment of this world! now shall the prince of this world be cast out! Cast out he is, and always must be, because his ideal, which is also that of France in general, however she may have noble spirits who contend against it and seek a better, is after all a false one. Plausible and attractive as it may be, the constitution of things turns out to be somehow or other against it. And why? Because the free development of our senses all round, of our apparent self, has to undergo a profound modification from the law of our higher real self, the law of righteousness; because he, whose ideal is the free development of the senses all round, serves the senses, is a servant. But the servant abideth not in the house for ever; the son abideth for ever.
Is it possible to imagine a grander testimony to the truth of the revelation committed to Israel? What miracle of making an iron axe-head float on water, what successful prediction that a thing should happen just so many years and months and days hence, could be really half so impressive?
So that the whole history of the world to this day is in truth one continual establishing of the Old Testament revelation: 'O ye that love the Eternal, see that ye hate the thing that is evil! to him that ordereth his conversation right, shall be shown the salvation of God? And whether we consider this revelation in respect to human affairs at large, or in respect to individual happiness, in either case its importance is so immense, that the people to whom it was given, and whose record is in the Bible, deserve fully to be singled out as the Bible singles them. 'Behold, darkness doth cover the earth, and gross darkness the nations; but the Eternal shall arise upon thee, and his glory shall be seen upon thee!' For, while other nations had the misleading idea that this or that, other than righteousness, is saving, and it is not; that this or that, other than conduct, brings happiness, and it does not; Israel had the true idea that righteousness is saving, that to conduct belongs happiness.
Nor let it be said that other nations, too, had at least something of this idea. They had, but they were not possessed with it; and to feel it enough to make the world feel it, it was necessary to be possessed with it. It is not sufficient to have been visited by such an idea at times, to have had it forced occasionally on one's mind by the teaching of experience. No; he that hath the bride is the bridegroom; the idea belongs to him who has most loved it. Common prudence can say: Honesty is the best policy; morality can say: To conduct belongs happiness. But Israel and the Bible are filled with religious joy, and rise higher and say: 'Righteousness is salvation!'—and this is what is inspiring. I have stuck unto thy testimonies! Eternal, what love have I unto thy law! all the day long is my study in it. Thy testimonies have I claimed as mine heritage for ever, and why? they are the very joy of my heart!' This is why the testimonies of righteousness are Israel's heritage for ever, because they were the very joy of his heart. Herein Israel stood alone, the friend and elect of the Eternal. 'He showeth his word unto Jacob, his statues and ordinances unto Israel. He hath not dealt so with any nation, neither have the heathen knowledge of his laws.'
Poor Israel! poor ancient people! It was revealed to thee that righteousness is salvation; the question, what righteousness is, was thy stumbling-stone. Seer of the vision of peace, that yet couldst not see the things which belong unto thy peace! with that blindness thy solitary pre-eminence ended, and the new Israel, made up out of all nations and languages, took thy room. But, thy visitation complete, thy temple in ruins, thy reign over, thine office done, thy children dispersed, thy teeth drawn, thy shekels of silver and gold plundered, did there yet stay with thee any remembrance of thy primitive intuition, simple and sublime, of the Eternal that loveth righteousness? Perhaps not; the Talmudists were fully as well able to efface it as the Fathers. But if there did, what punishment can have been to thee like the punishment of watching the performances of the Aryan genius upon the foundation which thou hadst given to it?—to behold this terrible and triumphant philosopher, with his monotheistic idea and his metaphysical Trinity, 'neither confounding the Persons nor dividing the Substance'? Like the torture for a poet to hear people laying down the law about poetry who have not the sense what poetry is,—a sense with which he was born! like the affliction to a man of science to hear people talk of things as proved who do not even know what constitutes a fact! From the Council of Nicæa down to Convocation and our two bishops 'doing something' for the Godhead of the, Eternal Son, what must thou have had to suffer!
K2_LATEST_FROM_CUSTOM Matthew Arnold
- English poet and cultural critic
- Born on December 24th, 1822 and died on April 15th, 1888