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present religious condition of the country, points it out as the duty of the State to adopt this system as that without which the universality and permanence of the beneficial influences of religion cannot be adequately secured nor their quality maintained. As far as the effects of any political measure can be foreseen, it would seem that this should be the most beneficial and healing measure which could possibly be passed for the United Kingdom in general and for Ireland in particular. It seems indeed to be contrary to the policy of the Church of Rome that its priests in this kingdom should be endowed by the State ; and no doubt it is highly important for the Pope, that so considerable an influence on English politics, as the Irish Roman Catholic Church, should be quite independent of the English Government and undivided in its allegiance to himself. Yet the offer of endowment might be made, and even if refused it could not be without its effect. The Roman Catholic laity would see in it an evidence of the liberality of the State, and could hardly sympathize with the preference shewn by the priesthood for their pockets; and their willingness to transfer the burden to the State would increase, according as experience shewed that there was little advantage to be gained by priestly agitation from a legislature disposed of itself to legislate fairly for all classes. The great body of the Roman Catholics would thus shew an increasing disposition to accept the offer of endowment, and the Roman Catholic Church in Ireland an increasing tendency to coalesce completely with the rest of the United Kingdom. But it will be objected to the principle of general endowment that it cannot be conscientiously adopted, at least towards the Roman Catholic Church, by a Protestant legis
lature. Now no doubt a Protestant legislature must wish to have the Roman Catholics converted to Protestantism, or at least the evil qualities of the Romish system reduced. But under the guidance of this very principle what ought it to do? It cannot by legislation bring the Roman Catholics to conformity. Ought it not then to adopt the method which tends to mitigate the evil that Romanism involves, and which at least leaves the prospect of their conversion as hope. ful as any other method which could be adopted ? That which the State would in fact maintain by the endowment, would be the effect which the endowment would produce; and that would be not Romanism but the amelioration of it.
19. With greater reason it may be objected to the system of general endowment that it is, though in a less degree, subject to the same defects as the voluntary system; for it is in general necessary to make the endowment of the minister dependent on his having a sufficient congregation. This leaves him still to a certain degree dependent on a congregation for his maintenance; for if they desert him he loses his endowment. Yet this dependence is much diminished when the congregation is considerably above the minimum required; and all the defects of the voluntary system are much reduced by endowment, though not got rid of altogether. It tends to make the ministrations of religion more universal and permanent by helping their maintenance; but it still requires for their existence that there shall be a practical demand for them. And it raises the minister in a considerable degree from his dependence on his congregation, but it does not give him the independence necessary for being their leader. While, therefore,
our axiom suggests the advisability of general endowment, it at the same time indicates the necessity of a further provision, in order that the benefits of reli. gious ministrations may be enjoyed by the country in the highest degree. There still remains a great national want, which none of the religious bodies that are endowed congregationally can supply, a great national function which they cannot perform. The nation needs a Christian ministry which will lead its religious thought and religious life, and that national clergy must be established on a higher basis.
This may be made apparent if we consider the need that there is for a Christian ministry to lead the nation's religious thought and life, the footing on which it must be maintained to enable it to do so, and the conditions which it must satisfy in order to perform this function.
As knowledge increases, all thought changes; for the spirit of man has an organizing energy, whereby it combines its new ideas with the old, assimilating them into one system, to be the basis of fresh effort and the source of renewed strength. The new know- ledge renders certain of the old ideas worthless, and these are cast away, while those which are retained are re-arranged in reference to the new; and in this continual process of renovation, and decay, and systematic structure, the very life of the spirit of man consists. As the elements of thought receive fresh accessions, and new perceptions of truth take up a permanent place amongst them, new analogies and distinctions arise amongst our ideas, new classifications are made of the objects of thought, and these so shift their position as it were to the mind, and are seen under such new aspects, as to furnish in a great degree
new mental conceptions. In this way the general principles under which we group the particulars that we know, become continually higher and more comprehensive, giving to knowledge an ever-changing symmetry; and as we pass within the portals of the great temple of truth, and move towards its inmost shrine, its parts are differently placed to our eye, its dimensions expand, and its architecture is seen from more commanding points of view. Moreover as the human mind extends its excursions into the great system which invites our knowledge, it acquires new habits in the efforts which are necessary to apply itself to new kinds of facts and to understand their principles. And these habits affect the action of thought on all other subjects; for the mind strives to develope itself symmetrically, and to maintain the unity of its life. Thus as man lives and thinks, knowledge grows and false opinion dies, old truth is seen in new lights, its systematic structure is changed by new principles, and all thought is subject to new intellectual habits engendered by the reaction of the subtleties of nature on the busy mind of man. Moral ideas also change as society advances in development and civilization; for social relations change, actions produce different effects on an altered society, social habit and feeling assume a new character; and thus the duties of life, the moral attributes of action, the sentiments of morality, take a somewhat new complexion as society extends and diversifies its structure and systematizes its operations.
Nor is religious thought exempt from this great law of change. On the contrary, it is in some respects more subject to it than any other province of the mind. For religion involves an ideal unity of all our thought and knowledge, and therefore feels every change by which they are affected. All the principles of nature are the plans of God, and its entire system is His great design. The life of man is the development of His providence, and all its history tends to the attainment of His great ultimate ends. In Him we put together all the fragments of goodness and greatness which we can anywhere find, striving to sce Him in the broken image of goodness which is still reflected on the troubled surface of humanity. And as we lift our thoughts to Him, we must ascend by the general plans of all nature which meet in His designing mind, and by our perceptions of all moral goodness which reflect His attributes. The changes consequently which take place in our view of nature, or in our ideas of goodness, must all affect our idea of God, and that idea is the governing element in our religious thought.
The words of God's written revelation, indeed, do not change, but the ideas which answer to those words alter to a great extent from age to age. Nay, that revelation itself is read differently, according as the spirit changes in which ancient writings are studied, and according as new thought puts in new lights the human life in which the revelation is embodied; for the eternal truth was conveyed in a form relative to those to whom at sundry times and in divers manners it came. The divine truth as embodied in the history of the Church's life is so combined with human influences, that every different view which is taken of these will cause it to be separated from the combination in a different form. And religious truth thus variously apprehended by the thought of successive ages, forms continually new combinations with