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of Europe. As yet it wants a head : that head must not be a man who will exhibit its strongest and most revolting features ; for many who are actuated by it are truly pious persons, and would not follow a leader of decidedly unsanctified temper and habits. There is no saying how soon such a head may be found ; and when once it is, it will be in vain to look for a true portraiture of Christianity North of the Tweed. Already is “ the land sore vexed with question and answer;" already do some of the controversialists not hesitate to avow that the destruction of private fame and reputation is the object of their publications; already
every passion which revels in the ruin of another been encouraged ; already has every barrier, which it is in the power of impotent malevolence to overleap, been passed. A rival is defied to a contest of defamation; and all who presume to write, or speak, or think, otherwise than according to this faction, are threatened to be loaded with the vituperation which the greatest master of that black art can vent. It is true, indeed, that the polemical writers in the time of the Reformation were coarse ; but so were also the poets, and authors on every subject. The coarseness of Ariosto would not be tolerated now; the plays of Shakspeare cannot be acted as they were written. Yet, while decency and softness have come into our theatres, they have not hitherto reformed the Scottish polemists, whereby "they surpass the deeds of the wicked.” Time was when the mess-room of a regiment was nothing but a scene of bloodthirstiness and strife ; but in these days many of them contain private regulations which effectually preclude all quarrelling. The language of passion, the stage, and the mess-room, is controuled-every thing, in short, in these days, except religious disputants.
In a recent controversial work the coarsest language is defended by the authority of Scripture. In one of their principal periodicals the intemperance of the editor was lately justified by precedents from John Knox and Milton. When the infirmities of Pope were made a source of panegyric by his admirers, his religion led him to rebuke the parasites :
“There are who to my person pay their court:
I cough like Horace, and, though lean, am short;
All that disgraced my betters met in me.”
VOL. II.--NO. II.
practices which are abjured by the under-graduates at matricu• lation in the English universities. Upon the present occasion we would defy so many pamphlets and so much angry writing to have appeared, if the authors would have taken even as much time to inform then selves as they have to calumniate their opponents. We entirely exonerate, however, Messrs. Erskine, Campbell, and Storey, on their part, from meriting censure on this score, as well as Dr. Hamilton and Mr. Russell on the other. Still less would this wrath have been excited, if love of controversy for its own sake had not eradicated all love--that is, all genuine Christianityout of the land. "The Apostles,” observes an able writer before quoted, “evidently found neither time nor occasion for entering upon nice analyses of motives;.... nordid they ever think of resting the all-important question of their own sincerity, and of their claim to a part in the hope of the Gospel, upon the abstract dialectics which have since been thought indispensable to the definition of a saving faith. Assuredly the Christians of the first age did not suppose that volumes of metaphysical distinctions must be written and read before the genuineness of religious professions could be ascertained. The want, in modern times, 'of a vivid conviction of the truth of Christianity, is probably the occasional source of many of those idle and disheartening subtilties; and it may be believed that a sudden enhancement of faith-using the word in its unsophisticated meaning-throughout the Christian community, would dispel in a moment a thousand dismal and profitless refinements, and impart to the feelings of Christians that unvarying solidity which naturally belongs to the perception of facts so immensely important as those revealed in the Scriptures.” While the sale of works relating to religion proves the extent of interest which the public mind takes in the subject, their prevalent character being controversial is decisive evidence of that public not having advanced beyond the rudiments of religious knowledge: and if any writer continues for several years a regular reviewer and writer of controversy, we may rest assured, from that circumstance alone, that that man has made no advance in genuine religion during that whole period, but is as completely a babe at the end of his quarrelsome career as he was at its commencement; and, it may be, has quenched the Spirit altogether, let his doctrine of final perseverance say what it will to the contrary.
That much of “the bad spirit now afloat in the North, is attributable to those characteristics of a people to which we have already referred as modifiers of all forms of evil, we do not question. This character in the Scots peculiarly unfits them for the discussion of religious subjects. The popular mode of ascertaining the national traits of any people, is to examine the way in which they have been represented by dramatic writers upon the stage. In no instance are the Scots pourtrayed as gentle, loving, tender, or benevolent; but, on the contrary, as turbulent, disputatious, haughty, self-seeking, and ambitious of personal and sectarian aggrandizement.
The most openly sceptical of modern metaphysicians have been produced in the universities of Glasgow and Edinbugh. In other moral sciences similar unsocial and unbenevolent principles have been shewn. Their political economy has inculcated the doctrine that the poor are to be looked upon merely as machines, to be used only so long as they can be made productive to their employers, and then left to starve as encumbrances on the soil: while from the same school has emanated the schemes for casting off the poor, by the repeal of those laws which the Christianity of our ancestors enacted for their protection; and also for dishonouring the bodies of the dead, under the pretext of benefiting science. We hope that we shall not be misunderstood in these remarks, as if detracting from the religious character of the common people of Scotland. Their piety we fully allow, and attribute chiefly to the Bible-education which they receive in the parish schools; and which has given to the pastoral and agricultural population of Scotland a devotional character superior perhaps to that of the same classes of any other country. Among such a people the Christian ranks first, the man ranks second; but in the schools and universities and literary circles of the cities and towns talent generally holds the first place, and religion often ranks only second, in their estimation. The besetting sin of the nation is to idolize talents, and every moral and intellectual quality, as a means of worldly advancement-and no further; and if we were to endeavour to express in one term the present national characteristic, we should say, it is idolatry of selfish intellect. Their objects, whether good or bad, are followed with a pertinacity which ensures success in every corner of the globe: no climate nor hardship can daunt them, while the main object is before them; and it is followed with a singleness of purpose, aided by natural shrewdness, which leaves all competitors behind.
This same national aspect is exhibited by the different controversies which have taken place within these last few years in this country : and, not tediously to run back over a long period, we refer to those only which have grown out of the Bible Society. The first of these was conducted chiefly by Englishmen, and without unseemly violence on either side : the last relating to that society was on the Apocrypha, begun and continued by Scotsmen beyond all bounds of propriety, or even of decency. A more striking contrast still is presented by the present controversy at Oxford. Most readers know that Mr. Milman, the Professor of Poetry, has written a history of the Jews for the "Family Library," in which the poetical talents of the author are more conspicuous than either the sober judgment which is the essential characteristic of an historian, or the simple faith in God's word which ought to be the first quality in a Christian. Dr. Fausset, the Margaret Professor of Divinity, has attacked this very mischievous publication, and shewn that it is a virtual denial of the inspiration of the Bible, by attempting to account for all the miraculous deliverances of the Israelites from natural causes ; and by calling whatever cannot be so explained, the figurative language of Eastern habits. It is needless to say that such a question far more directly involves the inspiration of the Sacred Volume than did that on the Apocrypha; yet not an expression has been used that could offend the most chaste and sensitive ear. On the other hand, . an extraordinary meeting of the Edinburgh Bible Society was held so lately as the end of April last, in which the speakers dwelt upon the old grounds of difference with the London Society with the same earnestness as when they were first brought forward ; magnifying with unholy delight every error which could be discovered, with the determination of augmenting the quarrel, and not suffering the wounds to heal. Thus in polemists the national perseverance is shewn in unremitting and implacable contention ; disputing about trifles, rather than not dispute at all; and rub up an old grievance, rather than be at peaee.
Polemical discussion is the only outlet in which any intellectual activity amongst the Scottish clergy can vent itself. In Italy, all men are debarred by their governments from speculating either upon politics or religion ; and, accordingly, the fine arts-poetry, painting, sculpture, and music - fostered by a climate which tempts the inhabitants to remain as little as possible within their own walls, by an atmosphere of unrivalled brilliancy, and by a language equal to the climate in softness and beauty, are the objects which engross nearly the whole of the intellect that is to be found beyond the Alps. In England, the clergy are often taken from the ranks of the peerage, four of whom are sitting as temporal peers at the present moment; and the whole body, having a mitre, and consequent seat in parliament, at the end of their vista, mix as much in politics as any other class. Their wealth too, and the repose of their collegiate fellowships, enable many, and induce some, to employ themselves in various departments of literature. In Scotland, the state of the clergy is the very opposite : they are chiefly, if not exclusively, taken from the lowest grade of middle life, and their stipends miserably and disgracefully small : hence their power is too contemptible to induce any of them to bestow their surplus mental activity on politics; and their means too limited to allow of their acquiring the necessary books and materials for
literary pursuits. The same class of minds, therefore, that dissipates its morbid irritability through various channels in Italy and England, is compelled in Scotland to find vent for it in the single current of polemics alone. If the object which they had at heart was not petty distinction in their own little sphere, but real love of truth, their swords would have been drawn not against their brethren, but against the publications—the most able, as well as the most infidel, of modern times—which have issued from amongst themselves. But from assailing these the Scotch clergy have ignobly shrunk. One who will not let an opportunity slip of attacking a brother as if he were an advocate of West-Indian abominations, can sit perfectly unmoved for years by the systematic defences of slavery, in its most aggravated form, in Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine: and, notwithstanding the activity of their zeal, the doctors of the church of Scotland no more dare attack the infidel articles in the Edinburgh Review, than a Jew or a Protestant dares attack the Inquisition in Rome or in Madrid. They want the moral courage, they want the intellectual power, and, above all, they want the religious love both for God's glory and for men's souls: they feel they would be foiled in the literary part of the conflict, and they are not willing to sacrifice their fame, to lay down their lives, for their brethren. They will attack the best servants, but never the enemies, of the Lord.
It is fortunate for the Church of Scotland that she has ever maintained in the General Assembly, a strong moderate party, which, containing more solid learning, has at various times checked the fanatical and violent party, and thereby preserved the church, as a body, from being wholly given up to schism. It is in this party alone that the palladium of that church is enshrined; the object though it often be of the gibes and indecencies of its inferiors in wisdom and in true Christian feeling. If peace be now kept, and the ignorance and fanaticism which are abroad in the denial of the human nature of our Lord do not gain the ascendancy-fanned as it is by the infidel worldly, and scarcely less infidel English periodical press, mostly too in the hands of schismatic Scotsmen-it will be to the discretion of the moderate party that this will be owing, and neither to the learning, piety, or genuine Christianity of the other.
The foregoing considerations will account for the coarseness and virulence of language which characterize the controversial writings of the present day in Scotland : which characteristics also betray habits of mind particularly ill calculated for the patient investigation of any subtle question. All persons who devote themselves to lofty researches, have been remarkable for the sweetness of their temper; because, the more any inquirer into truth is honest and learned, the more is he aware