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heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned, from which" he adds "some having swerved, have turned aside to vain jangling*."
We are very far from applying the latter term to all scientific discussions in religion, of which we should be the very last to deny the use, or question the necessity. Our main objection lies to the preponderance given to such topics by our controversialists in their divinity,and to the spirit too often manifested in their discussions. A predonderance it is, which makes us sometimes fear they consider these things rather as religion itself, than as helps to understand it, as the substitutes, not the allies of devotion. At the same time, a cold and philosophical spirit often studiously maintained, seems to confirm the suspicion that religion with them is not accidentally, but essentially, and solely an exercise of the wits, and a field for the display of intellectual prowess as if the salvation of souls were a thing by the bye.
These prize fighters in theology remind us of the philosophers of other schools: we feel as if
* See 1 Tim. 1, 5, 6, also verse 4, in which the apostle hints at certain "fables and endless genealogies, which minister questions rather than godly edifying which is by faith." We dare not say how closely this description applies to some modern controvertists in theology.
we were reading Newton against Des Cartes, or the theory of caloric in opposition to phlogiston. "Nous le regardons," says the eloquent Saurin upon some religious subject " pour la plupart, de la même maniere, dont on envisage les idés d'un ancien Philosophe sur le gouvernement." The practical part of religion in short is forgotten, is lost in its theories and what is worst of all, a temper hostile to the spirit of Christianity is employed to defend or illustrate its positions.
This latter effect might be traced beyond the foregoing causes, to another nearly allied to them -the habit of treating religion as a science capable of demonstration. On a subject evidently admitting but of moral evidence, we lament to see questions dogmatically proved, instead of being temperately argued. Nay we could almost smile at the sight of some intricate and barren novelty in religion demonstrated to the satisfaction of some one ingenious theorist, who draws upon himself instantly a hundred confutations of every position he maintains. The ulterior stages of the debate are often such as might" make angels weep." And when we remember that even in the most important questions, involving eternal interests," probability is the very guide of life*" we could most devoutly
Butler's Introduction to "The Analogy."
wish, that on subjects, to say the least, not "generally necessary to salvation" infallibility were not the claim of the disputant, or personal animosity the condition of his failure.
Such speculatists who are more anxious to make proselytes to an opinion, than converts to a principle, will not be so likely to convince an opponent, as the christian who is known to act up to his convictions, and whose genuine piety will put life and heart into his reasonings. The opponent probably knows already all the ingenious arguments which books supply. Ingenuity therefore, if he be a candid man, will not be so likely to touch him, as that " godly sincerity" which he cannot but perceive the heart of his antagonist is dictating to his lips. There is a simple energy in pure christian truth which a factitious principle imitates in vain. The "knowledge which puffeth up" will make few practical converts unaccompanied with the "charity which edifieth."
To remove prejudices, then, is the bounden duty of a Christian, but he must take care not to remove them by conceding what integrity forbids him to concede. He must not wound his' conscience to save his credit. If an ill-bred roughness disgusts another,a dishonest complaisance undoes himself. He must remove all ob
structions to the reception of truth, but the truth itself he must not adulterate. In clearing away the impediment, he must secure the principle.
If his own reputation be attacked, he must defend it by every lawful means; nor will he sacrifice the valuable possession to any demand but that of conscience, to any call but the imperative call of duty. If his good name be put in competition with any other earthly good, he will preserve it, however dear may be the good he relinquishes; but, if the competition lie between his reputation and his conscience, he has no hesitation in making the sacrifice, costly as it is. A feeling man struggles for his fame as for his life, but if he be a Christian he parts with it, for he knows that it is not the life of his soul.
For the same reason that we must not be over anxious to vindicate our fame, we must be careful to preserve it from any unjust imputation. The great Apostle of the Gentiles has set us an admirable example in both respects, and we should never consider him in one point of view, without recollecting his conduct in the other. So profound is his humility that he declares himself" less than the least of all saints." Not content with this comparative depreciation, he proclaims his actual corruptions. "In me, that is, in my flesh, there is no good thing." this deep self-abasement did not prevent him
from asserting his own calumniated worth, from declaring that he was not behind the very "chiefest of the Apostles"-again-"As the truth of Christ is in me, no man shall stop me of this boasting," &c. He then enumerates with a manly dignity, tempered with a noble modesty, a multitude of instances of his unparalleled sufferings and his unrivalled zeal.
Where only his own personal feelings were in question, how self-abasing! how self-annihilating! but where the unjust imputation involved the honour of Christ and the credit of religion "what carefulness it wrought in him, yea what clearing of himself; yea what indignation, yea what vehement desire, yea what zeal !"
While we rejoice in the promises annexed to the beatitudes, we should be cautious of applying to ourselves promises which do not belong to us, particularly that which is attached to the last beatitude. When our fame is attacked, let us carefully inquire, if we are " suffering for righteousness' sake," or for our own faults; let us examine, whether we may not deserve the censures we have incurred? Even if we are suffering in the cause of God,may we not have brought discredit on that holy cause by our imprudence, our obstinacy, our vanity; by our zeal without knowledge, and our earnestness without temper?