The help essay questions
The importance of its subject, the gravity of the occasion which has called it forth, the weighty names in the catalogue of its writers, all combine to demand for it the full attention which preface or recommendation might solicit for an ordi- nary volume. Diocesan engagements compelled me to postpone my work to an approaching period of comparative leisure.
It is then of the general object only of the work that I can speak. As to which let me say,— first, that its object is not so much to reply directly b 2 iv PREFACE. Eather, the re-statement of old truths of which it consists is a declaration that the fresh-varnished ob- jections which have called it forth are neither new nor profound. Further, there is no allowance here that the views which have called it forth are open questions or fair subjects for discussion between Christians, still less between Church of England men. Such difficulties are to be set at rest in any mind rather by strengthening the deep foundations of the faith, than by the laboured refutation of every sepa- rate, captious, and casuistic objection in which re- pugnance to all fixed belief of dogmas, as having been directly communicated by God to man, is wont to vent itself. That such objections to revelation should appear in this day, and should clothe themselves in the fresh garb which they have assumed, will not seem strange to thoughtful minds. Not, indeed, that it is other than a very narrow philosophy which would con- ceive of them as a mere reaction from recently re- PREFACE. Much more true is the explanation, which sees in it the first stealing over the sky of the lurid lights which shall be shed profusely around the great Antichrist. For these dif- ficulties gather their strength from a spirit of lawless rejection of all authority, from a daring claim for the unassisted human intellect to be able to discover, measure, and explain all things.
The rejection of the faith, which in the last age assumed the coarse and vulgar features of an open atheism, which soon de- stroyed itself in its own multiplying difficulties, in- tellectual, moral, civil, and political, has robed itself now in more decent garments, and exhibits to the world the old deceit with far more comely features. Tor the rejection of all fixed faith, all definite revela- tion, and all certain truth, which is intolerable to man the help essay questions as a naked atheism, is endurable, and even seductive, when veiled in the more decent half-concealment of vi PREFACE.
The human soul in its greatness and in its weakness crying after God, cannot bear to be told that God is nowhere, but can be cajoled by the artful concealment of the same lie under the assertion that God is everywhere, for that everything is God.
The dull horror of annihilation is got rid of by the notion of an absorption into the infinite, which promises to the spirit an unlimited expansion of its powers, with the misty hope of retained individual consciousness. The man is not to be swathed in the comeliest bands of his infancy. Thus no prejudice is to be shocked, no holy feeling rudely wounded, no old truth professedly surrendered.
Bather, mighty revelations are to be looked for amidst the glowing feelings with which the past is fondly recognised and the future eagerly expected.
The dissolution of Be- velation is the denial of God. The struggles and strifes of the last thirty years have been the inevitable consequence. The passionate re-assertion of the old truths, with all the evils which have waited on that passion, as well as all the immeasurable good which has been the fruit of the re-assertion, — all of these have been themselves the consequence of the widely-acting influence to which the human mind has of late been subjected. Short-sighted men have looked at these things with their narrow range, and believed that the scepticism which on the one side has been evolved in the struggle, was the fruit of that energetic assertion of the truth which was itself but one conse- quence of the unbelief with which it was striving. As well might they believe that the causes of the existence of some naked promontory which has had its sharp and rocky point defined by the great current it has long breasted, or of that mighty ocean-like flow which sweeps against it, are the help essay questions to be found in the bois- PREFACE. Two distinct courses seem to me to be required by such a state of things.
First, the distinct, solemn, and if need be, severe, decision of authority that assertions such as these cannot be put forward as possibly true, or even advanced as admitting of question, by honest men, who are bound by voluntary obligations to teach the Christian revelation the help essay questions as the truth of God.
I put this necessity first, from the full conviction, that if such matters are admitted by us to be open questions amongst men under such obligations, we shall leave to the next generation the fatal legacy of an universal scepticism, amidst an undistinguishable confusion of all possible landmarks between truth and falsehood. To say this, be it observed, is to evince no fear of argument against our faith though the freest, or of enquiry into it though the most daring. The roughest wind sweeps the sky the most speedily, and shews forth the soonest the unclouded sun in all his splen- dour. It is not, therefore, because believers in Eeve- lation fear enquiry, that authority is bound to inter- fere. But it is to prevent the very idea of truth, as truth, dying out amongst us. For so indeed it must do, if once it be permitted to our clergy solemnly to X PREFACE. First, then, and even before argument, our disorders need the firm, un- flinching action of authority. Secondly, we need the calm, comprehensive, scholar- like declaration of positive truth upon all the matters in dispute, by which the help writing my paper shallowness, and the passion, and the ignorance of the new system of unbelief may be thoroughly displayed. That this voltfme may in some measure, at least, fulfil these conditions, is the endeavour of its writers, and the hope of him who ventures now to commend it to the prayers of the Church, and the study of its readers.