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God, or be fit to deliver His gospel to men. I am sure that we have not too many of what are called the difficulties and dangers of our time; that it is cowardly and ignominious to wish them less; that in doing so we wish that God had robbed us of some of the instruments which He has given us for knowing His mind, and entering into the sense of His revelation.
Therefore, I say, that every minister of our Church is bound for himself, without waiting for any further guidance than he has, though thankful for all, to consider how he may take up that position which he would wish to see the whole Church taking up. If he thinks that the Church has a message for mankind, he is to try, let his lips be ever so stammering, to deliver that message. If he thinks that the Church ought to meet men as men, not according to their rank or social privileges, not according to the degree or measure of their faith, not according to the nature of their opinions, but as men of whom Christ is the Lord, whether they acknowledge Him as such or not, for whom Christ died, whether they feed upon His sacrifice or not, for whom He lives to make intercession, whether they
draw nigh to the Father of all through Him or not-then he is bound, so far as in him lies, to meet them in that way and on that ground, insisting upon no punctilios, asking for no deference, claiming no acknowledgement of powers but such as he claims for himself by the words which he utters, or the acts which he does. If he thinks that the Church is bound to deal with all the common conditions of human society for the sake of bringing them into conformity with God's law, he must endeavour individually to take that course. If he thinks that the Church should acknowledge obligations to all that are most hostile to it, he should gladly confess when he has received a benefit from any, should be ready to sit at the feet of any, but should feel at the same time that he has the power as a Churchman of returning the obligation, and that this is the very highest privilege God could confer
The reader of these Sermons will perceive that I have come to the study of the Old Testament with no philological lore; with no belief that I have any new interpretations to offer of its history; with the conviction that the most commonplace view of that his
tory is the truest.
I believe that philology is of unspeakable value, and should be applied manfully to Scripture. But I believe also that the experience of life and of our own wants furnishes an organon for this investigation more precious than the largest critical apparatus can ever be. I am satisfied that my clerical brethren who have no greater resources of learning than I have, will one and all be rewarded if they approach the Scripture in the spirit in which the Church teaches them to approach it, asking the great Teacher who has provided it for our use, to clear their minds of preconceptions and anticipations, and to let them feel what the blessing is of having a common book to correct their narrow, individual judgments, to raise them into the apprehension of permanent and universal truths.
In assertiug this as the privilege and the duty of English Churchmen, I am not, consciously at least, interfering with the rights, or duties, or powers of any other men whatsoever. A great portion of the Latin Church believes us to be heretics, utterly incapable of interpreting God's Word, and of understanding it. Well! If they have the key of
knowledge, let them use it. If they have lights which we do not possess, let those lights shine forth that all may see them and be blessed by them. I think I have more faith in the powers which God has endued them with, than they have ever shewn that they have themselves. If the Pope and the Cardinals would teach us what a righteous government upon earth is, I have no doubt that they would be wonderful interpreters of Scripture. If they exhibit no such divine order, but one most contrary to it, I believe that God will some day open the eyes of the Latin Clergy to see that fact, and that the Bible will be their helper in the work of reformation, as much as it was the helper of the Teutonic Clergy and Laity in the 16th century. I believe that many portions of the Scriptures which were dark to the students of that time will be clear to them, just because they are occupied with problems with which those men were not so consciously occupied, and therefore they will be able better to receive the solutions.
So again the German Protestants despise us as ignorant, antiquated, uncritical. I do not ask them to withdraw those censures. Let them be as learned, modern, critical as they please! But they have found in the course of the last two or three years that Germany has a political existence as well as a school existence, and that there are certain very complicated social knots which neither schoolmen nor statesmen can untie. Surely it could not grieve the countrymen of Luther if the book which in his hands became the asserter of their national existence—which determined their national language-should prove the instrument of scattering clouds, which the rage of mobs, and the theories of
, sovereigns, have seemed only to make thicker.
Our own dissenters say that we can only look at the Bible through the mist of old traditions. They maintain its absolute, undivided authority. Be it so. Then I trust that when they have done all that they think necessary in the work of denunciation, they will apply themselves manfully to the work of study. Let them set before us the meaning of those records which they believe are so full of meaning; let them confound the narrow views which we have formed of them. I have found my own views most narrow and imperfect; I have wished to be delivered from them,