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other new truth, and is differently elaborated and systematized by new mental habits, and under new principles.
Thus, though the doctrine of the Trinity and the Incarnation is to be found in the New Testament, and the Athanasian Creed be accepted as true, yet doubtless that Creed belongs specially to its own age, and embodies the particular scientific ideas of the time. And thus in our time, the growth of knowledge and the habits of scientific thought and historical inquiry are pervading with their influence the whole system of religious belief, and throwing it into new forms. Nor is this progress of religious thought accomplished without much violent agitation of religious feeling, and much peril to Christian faith. The influences which produce it work unavoidably through the minds of men, and as they come in contact with the old forms of religious belief their action is wont to be resisted with the whole strength of religious principle. Religious fervour so consecrates religious ideas, that the forms into which men have in past times moulded the faith become identified with its substance, and its transformation is mistaken for its destruction. Hence the fierce earnestness with which new religious thought has ever been resisted ; and hence, too, the danger that when it cannot be resisted men may give up their belief altogether, as if its foundations had been destroyed. Those earnest struggles then involve continual peril to the very existence of religion; and they moreover so disturb and agitate religious thought as frequently to throw it into the most distorted forms. There is no province of human belief so sensitive to disturbing influences, as that which refers to the great realities which are unseen and future. For owing to
the ideal nature of these, belief cannot be tested by experience; and faith involves essentially so much of religious affection and sentiment, that every influence by which these are swayed gives it an oscillation, and produces a succession of violent reactions.
Every change in religious thought affects religious life, and if the nation's faith declines or alters in its character, there will be a corresponding decline or alteration in those Christian virtues which are the nation's highest glory. There are besides special influences connected with each stage in our progressive civilization, and arising out of it, which tend to change the social ideas of men and alter the character of the nation. For example, as civilization is developed, society becomes more highly organized, and its various functions more specialized in distinct organs. The great work of promoting the general welfare becomes more subdivided, and the duty of each class more limited ; and this ever brings with it the danger of such a narrowing of class feeling, as may break the nation's unity and destroy its harmony. In a nation advancing in wealth so rapidly as England there is likewise a danger, not only of a growing worship of mammon, but also of a continual reference to material utility, and homage to achieved success, so great as to slight the true fountain of national greatness, the righteousness which exalteth a nation. The penetrating influence of Christian motive thus meets with various hindrances in its action on the nation at different periods, and suffers various deflections in mingling with the spirit of the age; and as the changing forms of religious thought and religious life arise from general causes, which affect the people throughout all their religious denominations, it becomes a national concern to have a special organ for maintaining in the country the purity of Christian faith, and the strength of Christian motive throughout these changes.
20. Whenever, indeed, society needs the performance of an office, it will itself by its demand for the office call into action those who will undertake it. And there is no fear but that there shall always be those who will undertake to adjust the relations between faith and reason, and between the principles of the Christian life and the tendencies of society. But if those spontaneous leaders were a class distinct from the ministers of religion, these would soon lose the influence over the people, which is necessary for the full discharge of their duty. The chronic discord which in that case would exist between the clergy and those who led new thought and watched the tendencies of the age, would soon alienate from the former all the intellect of the nation, and all those from whom its progress proceeds. Religion itself would gradually be detached from the growing knowledge and advancing civilization of the age, and would fall back to the loiterers who lagged behind in this onward march. The new influences would be unsanctified by Christianity, and, as they spread, the living waters of divine truth would cease to flow through the nation, and their purifying efficacy would be lost.
There is a danger that in the transitions of religious thought into new forms the eternal principles of true religion inay be lost; and it is therefore well that the ministers of religion who have devoted themselves to the study of those principles in their various applications, should be the persons to reconcile and combine them with the foremost thought of the time. Indeed the principles of religion are mainly of a practical character, and derive their great importance from their action on the nature of man; and those who by virtue of their office are most familiar with the spiritual wants of men, will be most likely to retain the essential truth which, though in various forms, ever corresponds to those wants. The natural guardians of religious truth are the ministers of the Gospel of Christ. They serve a divine Master, and minister a divine religion ; and as they strive after a clearer insight into the mind of Christ, and a fuller pos. session of his Spirit, it is to the source of all truth and all goodness that they ascend. Theirs it is to dwell amid the rays of that true Light which lighteth every man that cometh into the world, and to hail its splendour in all that is true and good. It is their office so to minister divine truth to the mind of the nation, that that truth shall combine with the nation's thought, and be the great regulative principle of all its knowledge and virtue. They are the guardians of the nation's highest knowledge and purest motive, and if they lose their office as guides of the religious thought and life of the nation, that thought and life will gradually cease to be religious, and our history become the record of a life lived without God in the world. It concerns, therefore, the highest interests of the State, and belongs to the most important duties of the civil power, that a Christian ministry shall be so maintained in the country, as that it shall be the religious leader of the nation.
21. But on what footing must that ministry be maintained in order that this function may be performed ?
There are two principal requisites needed for this purpose. One is that this national clergy shall include a fair share of the foremost ability and highest education of the country; and the other is that their independence in thought and action shall not be unduly fettered. It is not necessary to prove that the first of these requisites is needed; for it is evident that an influence on the nation, which consists solely in commending the truth to its reason and conscience, cannot be exerted by those who are looked down on by the intellect of the nation as incompetent to judge the truth. But it is worth while to notice that the only way in which a fairly able and learned ministry can be secured for the Church, is by securing for them a competent maintenance. It may indeed seem to be a very sordid consideration for a man thinking of entering the ministry of the Church, that he should inquire what kind of maintenance it is likely to afford him. But so it is that men shrink from poverty, sensitive men avoid dependence on the bounty of others, and able men are apt to choose a profession in which ability commands independent affluence. If the administration of the State is not to go on ideal principles but to adapt itself to the human motives on which its members act, it must, in seeking to provide for the Church an able ministry, secure for that ministry a maintenance which shall save them from want and dependence. The clergy indeed are partly paid by the pleasure which they take in the duties of their office, and partly by the chance of professional advancement; and consequently they are content with a smaller income than they might have earned in other professions, but they require that that income shall not be dependent on the will of a congregation.