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Puritans. "En who had beeable instance day-dreams hanked God
say, “I am no metaphysician;" and he evidently thanked God that he was not misled by the logical day-dreams that haunt other men. In one remarkable instance he led the way in doing justice to men who had been roughly handled before, the English Puritans. But his appreciation of them was curiously incomplete; and his early evangelical training and Whig sympathies, and the respect of the strong for strength, pretty well make it up. A poet and an orator, he failed to seize those salient points in their character to which Sir Walter Scott and Professor Kingsley were at once led, with inferior knowledge, but with a quicker instinct for the picturesque. This absence of the Shakespearian faculty was even more remarkable in Macaulay when he treated questions of abstract thought. In solid straightforward common sense he had no superiors, and his criticisms of Southey's social theories, and of Mr. Gladstone's Church and State, are unimpeachable in their way. But the reasoner broke down altogether when he had to grapple with questions which could not be measured by plumb and line. His respect for Bacon is a graceful homage to pure intellect; but that such a man should have wasted his faculties on an attempt to perfect the reasoning processes, appeared to his critic a singular illustration of “the idols of the cave.” What was the good of teaching men to think, when we all think naturally, and are strong or feeble in spite of our respective trainings? Yet Lord Macaulay would assuredly not have disdained grammar and rhetoric, although M. Jourdain talked prose without knowing it.
We dwell upon this want at once of grasp and of subtlety, not assuredly from any desire to disparage the reputation of our great historian, but because we believe a true understanding of his failings necessary to clear his character. Writing as a partisan, he provoked discussions of singular warmth and personal interest. The result has certainly been to invalidate his conclusions in several instances. Probably the same method, if applied further, would yield similar results. But the importance of these criticisms must not be exaggerated. They show that as a portraitpainter Lord Macaulay coloured too much in black and white, and neglected intermediate shades, and the softening effects of atmosphere. It makes a great difference whether Penn was for some few weeks in a false position, or consistently base; whether William III.'s morality was that of a high-minded man who despised crime, or that of an able man who commonly preferred righteous measures as the safer and more politic. Still, the change of a few sentences would involve all the concessions that Lord Macaulay's critics could fairly demand. He himself would probably have done justice after his fashion to Penn's greatness as the founder of an American colony, and to Mar!
borough's practical integrity when his rival was no longer on the throne. To praise extravagantly in one place, and blame immoderately in another, is not the method of a consummate artist; but neither is it the quality of a dishonest man. It only shows that the writer appreciates his subject in pieces, not as a whole, and describes his heroes from their acts, not from their characters. Meanwhile the solid merits of Lord Macaulay remain unaffected,-a vivid style, an unapproachable command of materials, a sterling morality, and a correct though somewhat limited appreciation of events.
Among the critics whom the History of England has provoked, the Bishop of Exeter and Mr. Paget are perhaps those who have chosen their points of attack best. The style of the Bishop's correspondence is not altogether pleasant. His compliments as he opens are a little fulsome, and he plants his strokes with an almost ferocious exultation. But the dialectical value of his arguments is considerable, and makes us regret that a man capable of doing good service to the history of opinion should have frittered away his ability upon worthless diocesan squabbles. In one of the two chief points for which he contends, the Bishop is clearly right. The question is of the relations established between Church and State at the Reformation. Lord Macaulay was probably ignorant of the strong language used by many of the schoolmen in asserting the rights of the temporal power against the Church. He had certainly overlooked the long series of acts by which the English nation for a hundred and fifty years had been depriving the See of Rome of any thing more than a nominal suzerainty. Coming to the Reformation with the ordinary Protestant view, that it was a volcanic outburst of hidden forces, he was struck with the contrast between Cranmer's language on the rights of a Christian king and the doctrines now in vogue at the Vatican. He regarded the primate as a time-server, ready to sacrifice every thing to power, and to acknowledge Henry VIII. as the source even of the sacraments. In thinking and stating this he was no doubt thoroughly wrong. The one real evidence for his opinion, an answer of Cranmer's to the question by what authority bishops were appointed, is contradicted, as the Bishop of Exeter observes, by the opinion of every other divine consulted, and by Cranmer's own views at other periods. We believe, indeed, the Bishop bas conceded too much in allowing that Cranmer even on that occasion intended to admit that the priestly powers were in themselves derived from the State. His words are a little incautious, but they do not exclude the view taken by his colleagues, that they were a grace, so to speak, given by God. In fact, the question at issue was not as to the exclusive right of priests to administer the sacraments, but as to the power by which priests were set apart. Now here the tradition of the English Church and the general view of Henry VIII.'s clergy regarded the Church as a separate organisation coördinate with the State, and unable to exercise its functions except by permission of the government. The then existing theory of the position of judges is a natural illustration. The crown in the 16th and 17th centuries nominated them, and could suspend or even dismiss them from office; but it would have been considered anomalous for any king to take his place on the bench, and assist in deciding a case. Comparatively, the position of prelates, shielded by a devout reverence for the mitre, was even more independent than that of the judges under our Tudor and Stuart kings. It is therefore most unfair to regard the Anglican Reformers as having voluntarily enslaved the Church to the State. Living at a time when the feeling against papal tyranny was vivid and universal, they laid down the first principles of church government in such a sense as should for ever free the State from fear of being sacerdotalised. They declared, as William the Conqueror and Lanfranc had agreed, that all sentences of excommunication were dependent for execution on the good will of the civil power. They asserted, following timidly in the steps of Occham, that in cases of necessity the civil power might appoint bishops and priests; but they never thought, it may almost be said they could not think, of the king as the fountain of faith or the source of the sacraments. The Bishop of Exeter goes a little too far in declaring that episcopal ordination was invariably held requisite for the discharge of the priest's office. Our divines recognised, as we have said, extreme cases in which the people under a pagan ruler, or the State after a general apostasy, might take the power of consecration into their own hands. On this principle, a friendly intercourse was perpetually kept up with those continental churches which emergencies of this sort had deprived of episcopal orders. The French congregation in London was allowed, in spite of the Act of Uniformity, to govern itself by a presbytery. But a French or German refugee appointed to an English benefice was bound to receive orders anew from his diocesan. Men no doubt differed in their view of the nature of this obligation. Some regarded it merely as an ordinance of the State for the enforcement of good order; but the best-accredited view considered it a certificate of legitimacy. Occasions might justify the placing a usurper on the throne, and a Genevan minister in a parish; but the mass of men clung with an undefined feeling, half common sense, half superstition, to direct connection with an historical ancestry for their ministers.
The second main point that the Bishop raises is one of great interest in the history of thought. Lord Macaulay had said that a controversialist who puts an Arminian sense on the Church's Articles and Homilies will be pronounced by candid men to be as unreasonable as a controversialist who denies that the doctrine of baptismal regeneration can be discerned in her Liturgy. The Bishop answers this by attacking resolutely the famous dictum of Lord Chatham that we have Calvinistic articles. The exact opposite, he observes, is the fact. The 17th article was expressly worded as a statement of the Lutheran against the Zuinglian view of predestination. The Swiss and French Churches have always held that only a small number of men are predestined to life eternal, and that those who are so called receive it any how. The German and English Churches have steadily held that predestination to life eternal is the general purpose of God, and that all baptised infants are specially elect. When the points of difference are thus stated, it is easy to see that the English Church is really guiltless of the terrible logic which regards the God of the New Testament as a blind Æschylean fate. Not, indeed, that Luther could not emulate the austerity of his rivals. The pitiless sentence, “It pleases you that God should save the unworthy; ought it not to please you if He damns the innocent?" sufficiently shows that the German reformer's charity did not love to stray beyond the limits of orthodoxy. Like most men wbo achieve reforms, he shrank from casting too great a shadow, and feared, if he loved much, to be accused of believing little. Fortunately for us, doctrines of this sort have mostly been left to insane pedants like Dodwell, and have never passed into the Liturgy.
Thus far we have only stated half the case. As regards his opponent, the Bishop's triumph was complete; Lord Macaulay saw the gist of the argument, and did not see how to answer it. Nevertheless, if silenced he was not convinced, and advanced a fact which deserved to be weighed and answered: the Bishop skilfully passed it over. “The Act of Toleration,” says Lord Macaulay, “was specially intended for the relief of the Calvinistic Dissenters. The relief given by that Act was confined to persons who should subscribe all the Articles of the Church of England, with the exception of the 34th, the 35th, the 36th, and some words of the 20th and 27th. The Legislature absolutely required the disciples of Owen and Buriyan—the old members of the Assembly of Divines, men who avowedly held the doctrines of the Confession of Faith-to sign the articles of the Church of England on free will, justification, election, and predestination; and these men made not the least objection. Now surely, if the sense of the Articles were plainly Arminian, it would have been as absurd to offer toleration to the Puritans on condition of their subscribing the Articles, as it would have been to offer toleration to the Socinians on condition of their subscribing the Athanasian Creed, or to Papists on condition of their taking the declaration against transubstantiation.” Few will be inclined to deny the practical value of this argument. That a large religious body should acquiesce in signing a disclaimer of the distinctive article of its faith as a relief to conscience would be too absurd to contend for. But, in fact, Lord Macaulay and his opponent are each arguing on different points. The distinctive feature of Calvinism in the 16th century lay in its exclusive test of church-membership, its unsacramental doctrine of an invisible church. But of the views of Arminius the Council of Trent was then the only representative. Luther and Calvin were alike agreed that the will of man was bond. It was this fatal error which mainly contributed to the triumph of the Jesuits; they found man a log, as the Genevan school delighted to express it, and they elevated him to a puppet. The English and Lutheran churches profited by the lesson. They insensibly borrowed the Tridentine and Arminian doctrine, which, as it had not been a vital point of controversy, they had never formally condemned. The old controversy, whether the elect were made so by predestination and baptism, or by predestination to some of the baptised, fell gradually into obscurity. There are doubtless conventicles in which it is still discussed. But the question of the freedom of will grew in importance with the dawn of a new philosophy. The influences of Hobbes and Newton tended, in their respective spheres, to eliminate the personal element in Christianity. Man was all matter, or God all law. The harmony of Clarke and the more philosophical Dissenters with these views is as much matter of history as the protest of Cudworth, More, and other Anglican Platonists against them. Under such circumstances, it was not wonderful that the Anglican Articles of the 16th century should be called Calvinist, or the Anglican clergy of the 18th Arminian. Both terms are incorrect only when they are applied to one and the same time.
Mr. Paget's New Examen is a book of a very different kind from the Bishop's legal and dialectical disquisition. In its very nature, dealing as it does with matters of fact, not of thought, and with points of detail rather than of general criticism, it addresses itself more to the general reader, and less to the “upper ten thousand” of literature. Moreover, the nature of the argument does not admit of such overwhelming disproof as may be brought to bear upon matters of abstract reasoning. Those who side in the main with Mr. Paget will still, in most cases, be inclined to make qualifications that seriously reduce the value of his strictures. Still more, they will feel that Lord Macaulay,