Mr. Keble, saintly as was his character, if ever there was such a character, belonged, as we all do, to his day and generation. The aspect of things and the thoughts of men change; enlarging, we are always apt to think, but perhaps really also contracting in some directions where they once were larger. In Mr. Keble, the service which he rendered to his time consisted, not merely, as it is sometimes thought, in soothing and refining it, but in bracing it. He was the preacher and example of manly hardness, simplicity, purpose in the religious character. It may be that his hatred of evil—of hollowness, impurity, self-will, conceit, ostentation—was greater than was always his perception of various and mingled good, or his comprehension of those middle things and states which are so much before us now. But the service cannot be overrated, to all parties, of the protest which his life and all his words were against dangers which were threatening all parties, and not least the Liberal party—the danger of shallowness and superficial flippancy; the danger of showy sentiment and insincerity, of worldly indifference to high duties and calls. With the one great exception of Arnold—Keble’s once sympathetic friend, though afterwards parted from him—the religious Liberals of our time have little reason to look back with satisfaction to the leaders, able and vigorous as some of them were, who represented their cause then. They owe to Keble, as much as do those who are more identified with his theology, the inestimable service of having interpreted religion by a genuine life, corresponding in its thoroughness and unsparing, unpretending devotedness, as well as in its subtle vividness of feeling, to the great object which religion professes to contemplate.
MAURICE’S THEOLOGICAL ESSAYS
Theological Essays. By F.D. Maurice. Guardian, 7th September 1853.
The purpose of this volume of essays is to consider the views entertained by Unitarians of what are looked upon by Christians generally as fundamental truths; to examine what force there is in Unitarian objections, and what mistakes are involved in the popular notions and representations of those fundamental truths; and so, without entering into controversy, for which Mr. Maurice declares himself entirely indisposed, and in the utility of which he entirely disbelieves, to open the way for a deeper and truer, and more serious review, by all parties, of either the differences or the misunderstandings which keep them asunder. It is a work, the writer considers, as important as any which he has undertaken: “No labour I have been engaged in has occupied me so much, or interested me more deeply;” and with his estimate of his subject we are not disposed to disagree.