Occasional Papers eBook

Richard William Church
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 447 pages of information about Occasional Papers.
or that,’ as if one had ascended into the third heaven, or had stood before the throne of God.  No; I see herein a deep mystery, a hidden truth, which I cannot handle or define, shining ’as jewels at the bottom of the great deep,’ darkly and tremulously, yet really there.  And for this very reason, while it is neither pious nor thankful to explain away the words which convey it, while it is a duty to use them, not less a duty is it to use them humbly, diffidently, and teachably, with the thought of God before us, and of our own nothingness.”—­Vol.  III.  Serm.  XXV.

There are two great requisites for treating properly the momentous questions and issues which have been brought before our generation.  The first is accuracy—­accuracy of facts, of terms, of reasoning; plain close dealing with questions in their real and actual conditions; clear, simple, honest, measured statements about things as we find them.  The other is elevation, breadth, range of thought; a due sense of what these questions mean and involve; a power of looking at things from a height; a sufficient taking into account of possibilities, of our ignorance, of the real proportions of things.  We have plenty of the first; we are for the most part lamentably deficient in the second.  And of this, these sermons are, to those who have studied them, almost unequalled examples.  Many people, no doubt, would rise from their perusal profoundly disagreeing with their teaching; but no one, it seems to us, could rise from them—­with their strong effortless freedom, their lofty purpose, their generous standard, their deep and governing appreciation of divine things, their thoroughness, their unselfishness, their purity, their austere yet piercing sympathy—­and not feel his whole ways of thinking about religion permanently enlarged and raised.  He will feel that he has been with one who “told him what he knew about himself and what he did not know; has read to him his wants or feelings, and comforted him by the very reading; has made him feel that there was a higher life than this life, and a brighter world than we can see; has encouraged him, or sobered him, or opened a way to the inquiring, or soothed the perplexed.”  They show a man who saw very deeply into the thought of his time, and who, if he partly recoiled from it and put it back, at least equally shared it.  Dr. Newman has been accused of being out of sympathy with his age, and of disparaging it.  In reality, no one has proved himself more keenly sensitive to its greatness and its wonders; only he believed that he saw something greater still.  We are not of those who can accept the solution which he has accepted of the great problems which haunt our society; but he saw better than most men what those problems demand, and the variety of their often conflicting conditions.  Other men, perhaps, have succeeded better in what they aimed at; but no one has attempted more, with powers and disinterestedness which justified him in attempting it.  The movement which he led, and of which these sermons are the characteristic monument, is said to be a failure; but there are failures, and even mistakes, which are worth many successes of other sorts, and which are more fruitful and permanent in their effects.

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Occasional Papers from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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