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Richard William Church
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 378 pages of information about Occasional Papers.
and life of the mass of mankind.  Answers, and not merely questions, are what we want, who have to live, and work, and die.  Criticism has pulled about the Bible without restraint or scruple.  We are all of us steeped in its daring assumptions and shrewd objections.  Have its leaders yet given us an account which it is reasonable to receive, clear, intelligible, self-consistent and consistent with all the facts, of what this mysterious book is?

Meanwhile, in the face of theories and conjectures and negative arguments, there is something in the world which is fact, and hard fact.  The Christian Church is the most potent fact in the most important ages of the world’s progress.  It is an institution like the world itself, which has grown up by its own strength and according to its own principle of life, full of good and evil, having as the law of its fate to be knocked about in the stern development of events, exposed, like human society, to all kinds of vicissitudes and alternations, giving occasion to many a scandal, and shaking the faith and loyalty of many a son, showing in ample measure the wear and tear of its existence, battered, injured, sometimes degenerate, sometimes improved, in one way or another, since those dim and long distant days when its course began; but showing in all these ways what a real thing it is, never in the extremity of storms and ruin, never in the deepest degradation of its unfaithfulness, losing hold of its own central unchanging faith, and never in its worst days of decay and corruption losing hold of the power of self-correction and hope of recovery. Solvitur ambulando is an argument to which Mrs. Ward appeals, in reply to doubts about the solidity of the “New Reformation.”  It could be urged more modestly if the march of the “New Reformation” had lasted for even half of one of the Christian centuries.  The Church is in the world, as the family is in the world, as the State is in the world, as morality is in the world, a fact of the same order and greatness.  Like these it has to make its account with the “all-dissolving” assaults of human thought.  Like these it has to prove itself by living, and it does do so.  In all its infinite influences and ministries, in infinite degrees and variations, it is the public source of light and good and hope.  If there are select and aristocratic souls who can do without it, or owe it nothing, the multitude of us cannot.  And the Christian Church is founded on a definite historic fact, that Jesus Christ who was crucified rose from the dead; and, coming from such an author, it comes to us, bringing with it the Bible.  The fault of a book like Robert Elsmere is that it is written with a deliberate ignoring that these two points are not merely important, but absolutely fundamental, in the problems with which it deals.  With these not faced and settled it is like looking out at a prospect through a window of which all the glass is ribbed and twisted, distorting everything.  It

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