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Bishop Colenso's work on the Pentateuch was now the topic of general discussion, which led to Mr. Kingsley's preaching a series of sermons1 on the subject to his people at Eversley. These he published and dedicated to Dean Stanley.
"All this talk about the Pentateuch," he writes to Mr. Maurice, "is making me feel its unique value and divineness so much more than ever I did, that I burn to say something worth hearing about it, and I cannot help hoping that what I say may be listened to by some of those who know that I shrink from no lengths in physical science. . . . I am sure that science and the creeds will shake hands at last, if only people will leave both alone, and I pray that by God's grace perchance I may help them to do so. My only fear is that people will fancy me a verbal-inspiration-monger, which, as you know, I am not; and that I shall, in due time, suffer the fate of most who see both sides, and be considered by both parties a hypocrite and a traitor. . . ."
"A reverent and rational liberty in criticism (within the limits of orthodoxy) is," he says in his preface to the "Sermons on the Pentateuch," "I have always supposed, the right of every Cambridge man; and I was therefore the more shocked, for the sake of free thought in my university, at the appearance of a book which claimed and exercised a licence in such questions, which I must (after careful study of it) call anything but rational and reverent. That book seemed dangerous to the University of Cambridge itself, because it was likely to stir up from without attempts to abridge her ancient liberty of thought; but it seemed still more dangerous to the hundreds of thousands without the university, who, being no scholars, must take on trust the historic truth of the Bible. . . . It was making many unsettled and un1 "Sermons on the Pentateuch."
happy; it was (even worse) pandering to the cynicism and frivolity of many who were already too cynical and frivolous. . . . I could not but see that, like most other modern books on biblical criticism, it was altogether negative; was possessed too often by that fanaticism of disbelief, which is just as dangerous as the fanaticism of belief; was picking the body of Scripture to pieces so earnestly, that it seemed to forget that Scripture had a spirit as well as a body; or, if it confessed that it had a spirit, asserting that spirit to be one utterly different from the spirit which the Scripture asserts that it possesses. For the Scripture asserts that those who wrote it were moved by the Spirit of God; that it is a record of God's dealings with men, which certain men were inspired to perceive and to write down; whereas the tendency of modern criticism is, without doubt, to assert that Scripture is inspired by the spirit of man; that it contains the thoughts and discoveries of men concerning God, which they wrote down without the inspiration of God, which difference seems to me (and I hope to others) infinite and incalculable, and to involve the question of the whole character, honor, and glory of God. . . .
". . . There is, without a doubt, something in the Old Testament, as well as in the New, quite different in kind, as well as in degree, from the sacred books of any other people: an unique element, which has had an unique effect upon the human heart, life, and oivilization. This remains, after all possible deductions for 'ignorance of physical science,' 'errors in numbers and chronology,' 'interpolations,' 'mistakes of transcribers '. . . there remains that unique element, beside which all these accidents are but as the spots on the sun, compared to the great glory of his life-giving light; and I cannot but still believe, after much thought, that it the powerful and working element, the inspired and Divine element, which has converted, and still converts millions of souls
- is just that which Christendom in all ages has held it to be the account of certain 'noble acts' of God's, and not of certain noble thoughts of man; in a word, not merely the moral, but the historic element; and that, therefore, the value of the Bible teaching depends on the truth of the Bible story. That is my belief. Any criticism which tries to rob me of that, I shall look at fairly, but very severely indeed.
"If all that a man wants is a 'religion,' he ought to be able to make a very pretty one for himself, and a fresh one as often as he is tired of the old. But the heart and soul of man wants more than that, as it is written, 'My soul is athirst for God, even for the living God.' Those whom I have to teach want a living God, who cares for men, forgives men, saves men from their sins and Him I have found in the Bible, and nowhere else, save in the facts of life, which the Bible alone interprets. In the power of man to find out God I will never believe. The religious sentiment or 'Godconsciousness,' so much talked of now-a-days, seems to me (as I believe it will to all practical common-sense Englishmen) a faculty not to be depended on, as fallible and corrupt as any other part of human nature; apt, to judge from history, to develop itself into ugly forms, not only without a revelation from God, but too often in spite of one-into polytheisms, idolatries, witchcrafts, Buddhist asceticisms, Phoenician Moloch sacrifices, Popish inquisitions, American spirit-rappings, and what not. The hearts and minds of the sick, the poor, the sorrowing, the truly human, all demand a living God, who has revealed Himself in living acts; a God who has taught mankind by facts, not left them to discover Him by theories and sentiments; a Judge, a Father, a Saviour, an inspirer; in a word, their hearts and minds demand the historic truth of the Bible - of the Old Testament no less than of the New.
·CONTROVERSY WITH DR. NEWMAN - APOLOGIA – JOURNEY TO THE SOUTH OF FRANCE - BIARRITZ-PAU - NARBONNE- THE SCHOOLBOY'S SEA-BÉZIERS - PONT DU GARD-NISMES - AVIGNON-UNIVERSITY SERMONS AT CAMBRIDGE - LETTER ON THE TRINITY - ON SUBSCRIPTION SAVONAROLA-THE LITERARY WORLDWESLEY AND Oxford - BEWICK'S AUTOBIOGRAPHY —VISIT OF QUEEN EMMA OF THE SANDWICH ISLANDS TO EVERSLEY RECTORY AND WELLINGTON COLLEGE - DEATH OF KING LEOPOLD LINES WRITTEN AT WINDSOR CASTLE.
"He heeded not reviling tones
Nor sold his heart to idle moans,
Though cursed and scorn'd, and bruised with stones.
He seems to hear a Heavenly Friend
And thro' thick veils to apprehend
HE severe illness and great physical depression with which this year began were a bad preparation for the storm of controversy which burst upon Mr. Kingsley, and which eventually produced Dr. Newman's famous "Apologia pro vita sua." The whole controversy is before the world, and no allusion would be made to it in these pages, but from the fear that silence might be construed into a tacit acknowledgment of defeat on the main question. This fact, however, must be mentioned, that it was the infor
mation conveyed to Mr. Kingsley of Dr. Newman's being in bad health, depressed, and averse from polemical discussion, coupled with Dr. Newman's own words in the early part of the correspondence, in which he seemed to deprecate controversy, which appealed irresistibly to Mr. Kingsley's chivalrous consideration, and put him to a great disadvantage in the issue.
"It was his righteous indignation," says Dean Stanley, "against what seemed to him the glorification of a tortuous and ambiguous policy, which betrayed him into the only personal controversy in which he was ever entangled, and in which, matched in unequal conflict with the most subtle and dexterous controversialist of modern times, it is not surprising that for the moment he was apparently worsted, whatever we may think of the ultimate issues that were raised in the struggle, and whatever may be the total results of our experiences, before and after, on the main question over which the combat was fought — on the relation of the human conscience to truth or to authority."1
For the right understanding of Mr. Kingsley's conduct throughout, it cannot be too strongly insisted upon, that it was for truth and truth only that he craved and fought. With him the main point at issue was not the personal integrity of Dr. Newman, but the question whether the Roman Catholic priesthood are encouraged or discouraged to pursue "Truth for its own sake." While no one more fully acknowledged the genius and power of his opponent than Mr. Kingsley himself, or was more ready to confess
1 Funeral Sermon on Canon Kingsley, in Westminster Abbey