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another agrees with them, if he disagrees with their opponents. They resolve his ideas into their own, and, whatever words he may use to clear his meaning, even the most distinct and forcible, these fail to convey to them any new view, or to open to them his mind.
Again, if those principles are narrow which claim to interpret and subject the whole world of knowledge, without being adequate to the task, one of the most striking characteristics of such principles will be the helplessness which they exhibit, when new materials or fields of thought are opened upon them. True philosophy admits of being carried out to any extent; it is its very test that no knowledge can be submitted to it with which it is not commensurate, and which it cannot annex to its territory. But the theory of the narrow or bigoted has already run out within short limits, and a vast and anxious region lies beyond, unoccupied and in rebellion, Their “bed is shorter than that a man can stretch himself on it; and the covering narrower, than that he can wrap himself in it.” And then what is to be done with these unreclaimed wastes ?—the exploring of them must in consequence be forbidden, or even their existence denied. Thus, in the present day, there are new sciences, especially physical, which we all look at with anxiety, feeling that our views, as we at present hold them, are unequal to them, yet feeling also that no truth can really exist external to Christianity. Another striking proof of narrowness of mind among
us, may be drawn from the alteration of feeling with which we often regard members of this or that communion, before we know them and after. If our theory and our view of facts agreed together, they could not lead to opposite impressions about the same matters. And another instance occurs daily: true Catholicity is commensurate with the wants of the huinan mind; but persons are often to be found who are surprised that they cannot persuade all men to follow them, and cannot destroy dissent, by preaching a portion of the Divine system, instead of the whole of it.
Under these circumstances, it is not wonderful that persons of narrow views are often perplexed, and sometimes startled and unsettled, by the difficulties of their position. What they did not know, or what they knew but had not weighed, suddenly presses upon their notice. Then they become impatient that they cannot make their proofs clear, and try to make a forcible riddance of objections. They look about for new arguments, and put violence on Scripture or on history. They show a secret misgiving about the truth of their principles, by shrinking from the appearance of defeat, or from occasional doubt within. They become alarmists, and they forget that the issue of all things, and the success of their own cause, (if it be what they think it,) is sealed and secured by Divine promise ; and sometimes, in this conflict between broad fact and narrow principle, the hard material breaks their tools; they are obliged to
give up their principles. A state of uncertainty and distress follows, and, in the end, perhaps, bigotry is supplanted by general scepticism. They who thought their own ideas could measure all things, end in thinking that even a Divine Oracle is unequal to the task.
In these remarks, it will be observed that I have been contrasting Faith and Bigotry as habits of mind entirely distinct from each other. They are so; but it must not be forgotten, as indeed I have already observed, that, though distinct in themselves, they may and do exist together in the same person. No one so imbued with a loving Faith but has somewhat, perhaps, of Bigotry to unlearn; no one so narrowminded, and full of self, but is influenced, it is to be hoped, in his degree, by the spirit of Faith.
Let us ever make it our prayer and our endeavour, that we may know the whole counsel of God, and grow unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ; that all prejudice, and self-confidence, and hollowness, and unreality, and positiveness, and partisanship, may be put away from us under the light of Wisdom, and the fire of Faith and Love; till we see things as God sees them, with the judgment of His Spirit, and according to the mind of Christ.
THE THEORY OF DEVELOPMENTS IN RELIGIOUS
Preached on the Purification, 1843.
Luke ii. 19. “ But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her
LITTLE is told us in Scripture concerning the Blessed Virgin, but there is one grace of which the Evangelists make her the pattern, in a few simple sentences,—of Faith. Zacharias questioned the Angel's message, but “ Mary said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word.” Accordingly Elisabeth, speaking with an apparent allusion to the contrast thus exhibited between her own highly-favoured husband, righteous Zacharias, and the still more highly-favoured Mary, said, on receiving her salutation, “ Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb; Blessed is she that believed, for there shall be a performance of those things which were told her from the Lord.”
But Mary's faith did not end in a mere acquiescence in Divine providences and revelations: as the text informs us, she “ pondered” them. When the shepherds came, and told of the vision of Angels which they had seen at the time of the Nativity, and how one of them announced that the Infant in her arms was “ the Saviour, which is Christ the Lord,” while others did but wonder, “ Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart.” Again, when her Son and Saviour had come to the age of twelve years, and had left her for awhile for His Father's service, and had been found, to her surprise, in the Temple, amid the doctors, both hearing them and asking them questions, and bad, on her addressing Him, vouchsafed to justify His conduct, we are told, “ His mother kept all these sayings in her heart.” And accordingly, at the marriage-feast in Cana, her faith anticipated His first miracle, and she said to the servants, “ Whatsoever He saith unto you do it.”
Thus St. Mary is our pattern of Faith, both in the reception and in the study of Divine Truth. She does not think it enough to accept, she dwells upon it; not enough to possess, she uses it; not enough to assent, she develops it; not enough to submit the Reason, she reasons upon it; not indeed reasoning first, and believing afterwards, with Zacharias, yet first believing without reasoning, next from love and reverence, reasoning after believing. And thus she symbolizes to us, not only the faith of the unlearned,