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the idea is so reasonable that it shines by its own light; it commends itself to our reason, approves itself to human judgment, and certainly does not need to be confirmed by “evidential miracles.” The case is similar with the doctrines of truth primarily revealed to Swedenborg, and by him communicated to the world: they appeal to reason, can be established by reason, may thus be welcomed by reason, and do not require “evidential miracles" to demonstrate them.
This, however, is not at all the case with “ the supernatural scheme for man's salvation,” as Dr. Mozley and the Anglican Church hold it. The scheme is not only “above reason ” to discover, it is “above reason” to believe ; it is unreasonable ; it is, indeed, contrary to reason. By no effort of reason can it be believed that God is one Divine Being and yet composed of three Divine Persons; that of two coeternal Persons one can be, in any real sense, the Father of the second, and the second the Son of the first; that in one God there could have been so vast a difference in the character of two out of the three Persons, as that one Person should require His wrath to be placated or His justice to be satisfied, before He could show mercy to man,--that the second Person should have had no justice needing to be satisfied, but have been willing to become a substitute for man, to bear the punishment due to man's sins in man's stead—that, after all, this substitute did not bear the punishment of sin, which was eternal banishment from the presence of God in hell, thus introducing a further subterfuge, viz., that “the temporary sufferings of an infinite being are the same as, or equivalent to, the eternal sufferings of an indefinite number of finite creatures ”—that infinite justice could have accepted this vicarious victim, imputing to the innocent second Person the iniquity of man, and inflicting upon Him the so-called equivalent punishmentthat then infinite justice, thus satisfied, could have consented to impute to sinful and guilty men the innocence and perfect righteousness of the second Divine Person, and simply because they believed in this "scheme for salvation ;” that, after all, in regard to the major part of mankind, who do not hear of, or cannot believe in this “supernatural scheme of salvation,” the eternal penalty of sin should not be remitted, but that after living the subjects of suffering in this world, they should be consigned to hell, and there remain for all eternity. Every step and stage of this "scheme for the salvation of man" is opposed to reason and will be rejected by reason. Reason assuredly could not discover it: reason cannot accept it. Nothing therefore remains for its acceptors but to hold that it is proved only by “evi
dential miracles.” Hence, as Canon Westcott says, “ if the claim to be a miraculous religion is essentially incredible, apostolic Christianity" (that is, this unreasonable view of it) “is simply false,"] If miracles are not “evidential,” or if the evidence of miracles be shaken, the whole scheme must totter and fall: reason, which has long been shocked by the unreasonableness of the scheme, will only expedite its rejection, and rejoice over the sepulchre where it will lie for ever entombed among once revered but now exploded errors. The logical necessity of their "scheme," consequently, has driven Anglican divines to base their belief in their so-called Christianity on miraculous evidence, a position now ruthlessly assailed by the author of Supernatural Religion.
Reduced to the form of a syllogism, the thesis of this work would read as follows : MAJOR PREMISS : The only valid proofs of the truth of Christianity are
miracles. MINOR PREMIss : But miracles are impossible in the order of nature; and,—The New Testament times were an age of superstition when
it was easy and common to believe in miracles; and,—There used to be believed that miracles were continued down
“ a permanent stream,” but which belief is now exploded; and,—Only in proportion to the ignorance and superstition of men
have miracles been believed; and,—There is no sufficient proof that miracles have ever been
wronght; or that the persons who are said to have recorded the miracles were eye-witnesses of the miracles they record; or were
competent to judge whether the miracle was truly miraculous; and,—The records of the miracles of Jesus Christ are utterly un
trustworthy. CONCLUSION : Ergo, There is no sufficient proof of the truth of
Christianity ; but, on the contrary, an overwhelming presumption
against it. In grappling with this syllogism we have attacked its major premiss. If miracles are not "the only valid proofs of Christianity," the force of the syllogism is turned aside, and the conclusion is defeated. We have attempted to show that whatever else they may be, miracles could never have been intended to be “evidential." We have also endeavoured to explain why such an improper position came to be assigned to miracles. Our next topic will be our answer to the
i Gospel of the Resurrection, p. 34, quoted in Supernatural Religion, p. 9.
question, “What is the true relation of miracles to Christianity;?” We have said that this relation is “illustrative:" the explanation and proof of this proposition we must reserve for a second article.
INCIDENTS OF A TOUR IN FRANCE AND ITALY.
When one has an opportunity of making a pleasant journey at our ease, it frequently happens that scenes and circumstances are noticed and enjoyed which we would gladly have our friends to witness as well as ourselves. As this cannot be done to any considerable extent, the next best thing is to enable our friends to read whatever has interested us, and may be deemed likely to be interesting and possibly not altogether unprofitable to them. It is with this view I relate some of the events of a very charming, a very refreshing, and, I trust, a really edifying tour.
I arrived in Paris, Sept. 17th, and the next day saw a few New Church friends, but found that others, and those the most active, were away in the country, so that I learned only that the meeting of our friends was kept up, but nothing notable was going on. The New Church in France seems as if it afforded an illustration of the view of some of our friends, who think that truth would make its way best if there were no organised body who seek to act out in doctrine, worship, and life what they verily believe.
There is no organised body of New Church worshippers in France, and the result is the National Church is an effete skeleton, the nation is Voltairean or Deist, scarcely anything is known of the New Truths or Swedenborg, or any New Church books sold.
I left Paris, September 19th, for Meaux, the cathedral town of Bossuet, the great Gallican bishop in the time of Louis XIV. He was an eloquent and energetic man, a sort of Bishop Philpots of his day, a great foe to the Jansenists, to Fénelon, and the Protestants, but a great maintainer of a National Catholic Church ruled chiefly by himself. He was called the Eagle of Meaux, though hawk I think would have been the better name, and I felt inclined to see what the results of such a man's existence and labours were in his own cathedral city. He hounded on the vain and lustful King to oppress and exterminate Protestantism to obtain forgiveness for his depraved life. Meaux is an old agricultural town of about 12,000 inhabitants, I should judge, with a market well supplied from the surrounding country, but no buildings or streets worthy of remark. The cathedral has been a respectable one, but is quite in a broken-down condition. The statues are defaced, and the whole building decayed. A few old men were rambling over the Latin service in a dilapidated choir, with no listeners. The whole seemed to me a striking emblem of the Church in France, decay, with hardly a sign of resurrection.
I passed on by rail to Epernay in the Champagne district, and as it was Saturday I resolved to spend a quiet Sunday there, and remain until Monday, when I intended to visit Rheims.
On Sunday morning I asked mine host if he knew where the Protestant worship was held. He said he knew they had worship somewhere, but he really could not tell where it was; but he understood they were going to build a handsome temple soon (the Protestant churches are usually called by that name in France), and then it would not be so difficult to find it. I inquired if there were any English families in Epernay, as most likely they could give me the information I needed. He replied that there was one he believed somewhere at the end of a long street to which he directed me, but where exactly he could not tell. I set out early in the forenoon, and after some search found the family in question, the gentleman being an agent of a house in London, resident some years in Epernay. They received me most welcomely, English people seldom passing that way. They informed me there was only worship once a fortnight, the pastor having two congregations, and one service during the Sunday. Happily, it was the service Sunday, which took place in a room of the town-hall, kindly granted by the mayor, and commenced at two o'clock. They expected not the regular pastor, who was away for his holiday, but a gentleman from Rheims. They feared the handsome church would not come soon, but they invited me to accompany them at two o'clock. I agreed, and in the meantime determined to go to the Roman Catholic service at the parish church.
The church was well filled, there was some preliminary service and music, then a young priest preached a very poor sermon in French in a very poor manner, and afterwards the mass was performed, of course, as usual, in Latin. There was plenty of gesticulating, singing and changing about, but for want of any intelligent instruction among the people there was no deep interest or feeling. They have a curious practice in France about the middle of the forenoon mass : two boys come round with baskets full of bread a little spiced and cut up into squares of an inch each way. Each one of the congregation who (chooses takes a piece and eats it, and thus there is a communion of bread.
There was then an interruption of the service by first one girl coming round to make a collection, and afterwards another, and lastly a man charging for the chairs. I have seen sometimes four collections made during a French service. This perpetual mingling of money and religion together is most distasteful and disturbing to me. I suppose others have not the same repugnance since the High Churches in this country adopt it, but I must confess that to me it seems a decided mistake. It lowers the feeling of devotion to the level of the marketplace.
The service of the French Church is grand and attractive. If done in the language of the people, Transubstantiation left out, and the prayers brought into harmony with true doctrine, it might form an excellent general worship, supplying all that piety demands. Like the service of the Church of England, it should be shortened by one-third at least. Unless on exceptional occasions, a religious service should not continue beyond an hour and a half.
In the afternoon, I went with my new friends to the Protestant service. There were thirty persons present, men, women and children. The officiating clergyman was: a gentlemanly man from Rheims in ordinary dress. There was no singing or other music. The minister, and congregation stood to pray, and the prayer lasted about ten minutes or a quarter of an hour. The text was next taken from one of the Epistles, minister and congregation seated, and the sermon was a good moral essay. There was very little life or reference to the Word in it. This was followed by another prayer all standing, and so the service came to an end. The minister did it all, even to the Amen.
The people seemed nice thoughtful people, but there was a stiffness and coldness about the whole service which Protestantism in France should as soon as possible get without. They seem to need works of charity, Sunday schools, and warmth in worship, to make their service likely to draw the French people from the histrionic ceremonial of Romanism. Protestantism is advancing in France. There are certainly as many Proteatants in France as there are Roman Catholics in England, and as many Protestant temples in that country as Roman Catholic chapels here, but I am persuaded that with more love and work, the Protestants, with whom from their respect forthe Word our sympathies must chiefly go, would greatly increase their influence, and their uises.