Occasional Papers eBook

Richard William Church
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 447 pages of information about Occasional Papers.
what was accepted as right and obvious and indisputable, not by Churchmen only, but by all earnest believers up to our own days.  Given certain conditions of Christian faith and duty which he took for granted as much as the ordinary laws of morality, then the man’s own individual gifts or temper or leanings displayed themselves.  But when people talk of Keble being narrow and rigid and harsh and intolerant, they ought first to recollect that he had been brought up with the ideas common to all whom he ever heard of or knew as religious people.  All earnest religious conviction must seem narrow to those who do not share it.  It was nothing individual or peculiar, either to him or his friends, to have strong notions about defending what they believed that they had received as the truth; and they were people who knew what they were about, too, and did not take things up at random.  In this he was not different from Hooker, or Jeremy Taylor, or Bishop Butler, or Baxter, or Wesley, or Dr. Chalmers; it may be added, that he was not different from Dr. Arnold or Archbishop Whately.  It must not be forgotten that till of late years there was always supposed, rightly or wrongly, to be such a thing as false doctrine, and that intolerance of it, within the limits of common justice, was always held as much part of the Christian character as devotion and charity.  Men differed widely as to what was false doctrine, but they did not differ much as to there being such a thing, and as to what was to be thought of it.  Keble, like other people of his time, took up his system, and really, considering that the ideal which he honestly and earnestly aimed at was the complete system of the Catholic Church, it is an abuse of words to call it, whatever else it may be called, a narrow system.  There may be a wider system still, in the future; but it is at least premature to say that a man is narrow because he accepts in good faith the great traditional ideas and doctrines of the Christian Church; for of everything that can yet be called a religious system, in the sense commonly understood, as an embodiment of definite historical revelation, it is not easy to conceive a less narrow one.  And, accepting it as the truth, it was dearer to him than life.  That he was sensitively alive to whatever threatened or opposed it, and was ready to start up like a soldier, ready to do battle against any odds and to risk any unpopularity or misconstruction, was only the sure and natural result of that deep love and loyalty and thorough soundness of heart with which he loved his friends, but what he believed to be truth and God’s will better than his friends.  But it is idle and shallow to confuse the real narrowness which springs from a harsh temper or a cramped and self-sufficient intellect, and which is quite compatible with the widest theoretical latitude, and the inevitable appearance of narrowness and severity which must always be one side which a man of strong convictions and earnest purpose turns to those whose strong convictions and earnest purpose are opposite to his.

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Occasional Papers from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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