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always correct, but that no man or body of men has a right to put trammels upon the exercise of our highest powers, or to impose a penalty for following the divinest voice that speaks within the soul.

Thus far we may seem to have reached only a negative result, a condition rather than a power of growth, and if liberalism were nothing more than an escape from all control, it might deserve some of the aminadversions which have been cast upon it. But for the Christian it rests on a profound and positive faith, which may be expressed thus, that the possession of the spirit of life in Christ is the one thing essential, and the one thing sufficient, to constitute a Christian ; and that to substitute for this inward life assent to a dogma about Christ's Person or work, or about the incomprehensible mysteries of the Divine Being, is to subvert the very basis of Christianity. The dogmatism which so long oppressed the human mind reversed the express teaching of Christ ; for all manner of blasphemy against the Holy Spirit, through brutal and unclean living, was condoned, but a supposed word against the Son of Man, in the form of a suspicion of the current dogma, was expiated by the stake. Let us say plainly that this whole system of intolerance and cruelty and bloodshed, which arose out of the ascription of such exorbitant value to dogma, was diabolical, and not Christian. To be a Christian is to be a child of God through fellowship with Christ in the spirit of sonship; and this it is which emancipates us at once from evil passions and fierce prejudices within, and from those tyrannical forces without, which may kill or imprison the body, or cast out our names as evil for the Son of Man's sake, but cannot destroy the communion of the soul with God. The freedom which we prize is that with which Christ has made us free ; and it is in the name of the great Redeemer of men, the despised and rejected, the persecuted and slain, that we maintain the liberty which we have inherited, and mean, with God's blessing, to hand it down unimpaired to our successors.

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Let us see the operation of this spirit in bringing freedom to theology and to the Church.

First, then, it liberates theology. We see, as a simple fact of experience, that the same spirit is manifested under diverse forms of thought. In the New Testament itself we find, amid its underlying unity, various types of doctrine, and still more divergent intellectual tendencies. Paul and James, Peter and John, are very dissimilar in their mode of conceiving the method and result of the new spirit of life which they revere in common. And throughout the history of the Church the men who have walked in robes of white, and borne upon their brow the impress of the Son of God, have not been confined to any sect. name and every profession of faith sweet and lovely souls have found shelter, and bowed down to the same Lord over all, who heeds not our party-cries, and is not propitiated by our arrogant isolation and mutual exclusion. Indeed, the noble character of the heretic has often been a perplexity to the persecutor; and the latter, instead of acknowledging that the word of God is not bound, and revering the awful words, "holiness to the Lord," written on his brother's forehead, has ascribed his apparent saintliness to the wiles of the devil, who sought thereby to make the poison of his heresy more attractive and deadly. To us let the facts bring a far different lesson, and clear away the blindness of prejudice from our minds.

The reason for this fact, so unwelcome to the ecclesiastical mind, becomes apparent when we reflect on the nature and place of theology. The spirit is primary; exact and formulated thought is secondary. The spirit of life in Christ may be recognised in its divine beauty, and appropriated by the soul, through an instinctive attraction towards the highest goodness, and the felt power of religion when manifested in all the fulness and majesty of self-renouncing love. Thus faith is kindled within, and by this faith a man may live, though he has never tried to analyse it, or to interpret to himself the impression which the Son of God

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has made upon his heart. But this spirit enfolds in its harmonized unity a rich complexity of truths, and theology is the intellectual expression of its implicit contents, and an attempt to transport its truths into the sphere of knowledge, to place them upon rational grounds, and to bring them into just relations with the whole body of knowledge. It is only thus, as a philosophical interpretation of that which is highest and most characteristic in the nature of man, that theology can claim to be queen of the sciences. But even as queen she must share the fallibility of her kind, and submit to all those oscillations, rectifications, and gradual advances which mark the progress of science and of thought. He who is aware of this, and tries to keep theology in line with the onward march of knowledge ought, instead of being abused and excommunicated, to receive the thanks of all religious men; for it is only thus that theology, and ultimately religion itself, can continue to command the homage of the world. And what if in this way many foolish theories be broached ? Give perfect liberty, and here as in other subjects men will take their places according to their real deserts. The charlatan, instead of receiving the honours of martyrdom, will soon sink into deserved neglect; and even he will work an unintended good by forcing abler and better men to think and study.

Liberalism as thus defined is not inconsistent with the recognition of some religion as true, but rather imparts to religion the

kind of enlightened and rational belief as

find in connection with other subjects. In physical science no one dreams, at the present day, of limiting the freedom of investigation by the fetters of dogma; and the result has been, not that the human mind has run riot among the images of a baseless fancy, but that sound methods of research have been established, and a body of truth is being slowly accumulated, which men hold with a regulated confidence according to the certainty of the evidence, though

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there is always a margin of hypothesis where varying opinions come into friendly conflict. So in the vast bulk of intellectual material which constitutes theology, the only hope of general agreement lies in the freedom and thoroughness of investigation; and on many secondary questions differences will always prevail, while the heart of religion and the great primary truths which are its immediate expression, will command the unshaken faith of religious men. In fact, freedom and faith go hand in hand, twin sisters born of the spirit of Christ. The crouching fear which shrinks from doubt as if it were sin, and parrots the prescribed creed as a sort of charm, knows nothing of the open brow and bounding step of faith, with eyes lifted heavenward and hands nerved for great endeavour, but still clanks its chains, and offers bribes against a dreaded doom. There is, indeed, the spurious freedom of a runaway; but the Son abides in the house for ever ; and if the Son make you free, ye shall be free indeed, and enter into “the liberty of the glory of the children of God.”

The same spirit liberates the Church. It can no longer be regarded as a limited and hereditary organisation, around which lies only the dreary waste of heresy, heathenism and unbelief; for the spirit of Christ transcends the boundaries of all the sects, yea, and of Christendom itself, and where his spirit is, there is his Church. “ Holiness to the Lord” is written over its portals; and the consecration of the heart and life to the Holy One is the characteristic of its members. The doctrine has been revived in England that “ dissent is schism and schism is sin,”—a doctrine which might come with at least some dignity of appeal from the Roman Catholic Church, but provokes a smile when put forward by an insular body like the Church of England, which has deliberately cut itself off from the communion of Christendom. Would, indeed, that the outward unity of the Church of Christ could be restored, and especially here in England where, owing to the multiplication of sects, men have become almost incapable of regarding religion except from a sectarian position. But conscience cannot be sacrificed for the sake of an artificial union. If there be guilt in separation, if this chapel tells a story of divided hearts and bitter controversies, the guilt must lie with those who enforced separation by imposing on their brethren terms of communion which God did not impose. Union can be restored only by reverting to the divine conditions; and we must endeavour, not to exclude, with narrow uniformity, all who differ from us, but to include, in richest variety, all who are worthy. Happily, in spite of the arrogant and turbulent forces of reaction, a blessed change is stealing over the minds of men; and in almost every sect there are some who are discovering that the teaching of Christ is more vital than the dogmas of the theologians, and are longing for emancipated thought, and for a free pulpit where, instead of the old watchwords of controversy, there may be open and sincere expression of whatever the Spirit speaks within the soul, and of whatever doctrines faithful enquiry may seem to establish as true. We, with our two hundred years of freedom, we who have proved by experience that it is possible to preserve the continuity of religious life through progressive theological change, and to maintain the heartfelt sympathies of spiritual fellowship amid the intellectual differences which are indispensable to the growth of thought and knowledge, we who have been trained to survey every question in its simple relation to truth and without sidelong glances at party interests, ought to be leaders in this movement, and place upon the front of our banner, “Unity of the Spirit, Fidelity of Research, Sincerity of Expression, and Mutual Charity.” Never since this chapel was founded was its great and fundamental principle of comprehension through spiritual faithfulness more clearly seen than at the present day; and in spite of an inherited exclusiveness and bristling hedges of separation which still keep kindred spirits apart, it may be that the time is coming when the long oppressive age of dogmatism and intolerance will pass away like a malignant dream, and the Church of God at last become a

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