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hoarse, or broken; by the whisper of conscience, and by the inspirations of history and of to-day; and I wait with you the emergence from the corporeal cloud to see more clearly, must have found him ready to be a brother. Intolerance, with Thomas Arnold, is the over-estimating of points of difference, with the under-estimating of points of agreement. These were the thoughts that went out from the great schoolmaster of Rugby; this the luminous atmosphere in which Matthew Arnold was reared. The laity, with Thomas Arnold, is “the Church minus the clergy.” Reviewers should have met this broad unimpeachable truth (unimpeachable if the word Church really means anything) before bringing a railing accusation against Matthew Arnold's later books, as "amateur theology." How subtly does sacerdotalism yet lurk!
In one so idealistic as Matthew Arnold we ought to be free from fear of old prejudices peeping out, but they are so strong to survive that it would seem the mind must find rest in having some corner of its domain untouched by pure reason, and given up to conventional notions, Matthew Arnold is rather a martyr for the new than the old, the free than the effete, but we cannot help feeling with Herbert Spencer a certain regret that he does not take an entirely cosmopolitan view on some subjects. For instance, as Mr. Spencer puts it, “ Avoid. ing that provincialism of thought which he says characterises Dissenters, I should have expected Mr. Arnold to estimate Dissent, not under its local and temporary aspect, but under its general aspect as a factor in all societies at all times." But Mr. Arnold may feel that with a Church motherly enough to be loved, there could be no Dissent, Dissent being only a deviation in things indifferent. We scarcely can imagine that he would apply, on behalf of the broadest establishment of a Church, his maxim of “Force till right is ready,” with regard to those who chose to be free. It is necessary while the higher elements of society are unable to win over the lower, to have a police force; but sad will be the time, and coming never, we hope, when the Church of the greatest power shall be allowed to establish a police of conformity. Matching the vigorous vagaries of his childish time, and those early locomotions on the floor, Mr. Arnold's mind has made many busy voyages, returning not without freight. But if he had been absolutely constrained to conformity and to intellectual merchandise of only one prescribed pattern, it is likely that he would never have pressed forward toward such journeys at all; and the coastguards of conformity would have thus limited our gains. To
very many persons Matthew Arnold's mind must be an intricate puzzle, with its exceeding and often fanciful idealisms, and yet with an exorcising attitude towards the dreams and delusions of “extra belief." To some confusion of this kind no doubt it is due that Mr. Arnold's theological works have been sweepingly stigmatised as “repulsive to every order of religious thought.” As Mr. Arnold, in spite of his semicynical or assumed playfulness, a quality which does not prove him lacking in earnestness any more than bluster, which is often a cover for unsteadiness of nerve, proves intrepidity, is certainly a man of deep religious thought, he must, if all agree in such an accusation, either be utterly alone and unapproached in his order of religious thought, or repulsive to himself. We would say rather that in a time of difficult throes, he holds, or partly holds, a difficult outpost on the way of struggle toward light, and that if he does not fully reach the goal himself, he is at least one of those honourable warriors whose bodies fill up the trenches, and offer themselves as bridges for the rest.
The quotations which face the title page of “Literature and Dogma" are most significant, and by their juxtaposition, a whole argument in themselves. First we have the glow of faith, here at once pagan and Hebraic in its warmth and reality :—“O quam magna multitudo dulcedinis Tuæ, Domine, quam abscondisti timentibus Te!' Ps. xxxi. (xxx. in Vulgate), 19. Critics of Mr. Arnold's book are divided by this, as by a flaming sword, into those that cannot feel with it and those that can; those that cannot and say they can, and those that can and think they cannot. Then comes the following from Bishop Butler, manifesting the best and broadest spirit of the Reformation :
"And as it is owned the whole scheme of Scripture is not yet understood, so, if it ever comes to be understood, it must be in the same way as natural knowledge is come at: by the continuance and progress of learning and of liberty, and by particular persons attending to, comparing and pursuing intimations scattered up and down it, which are overlooked and disregarded by the generality of the world. Nor is it at all incredible that a book which has been so long in the possession of mankind, should contain many truths as yet undiscovered. For all the same phenomena, and the same faculties of investigation, from which such great discoveries in natural knowledge have been made in the present and last age, were equally in the possession of mankind several thousand years before.” Then follows what shews the hope and power of the sound idealist, he who reads history as illustrating principles, and thus learns prophecy :
“If a great change is to be made, the minds of men will be fitted to it, the general opinions and feelings will draw that way. Every fear, every hope, will forward it; and then they who persist in opposing this mighty current will appear rather to resist the decrees of Providence itself, than the mere designs of men. They will not be resolute and firm, but perverse and obstinate.”—Burke. These are grand texts, and Mr. Arnold's book is a sermon upon them.
The reason why Matthew Arnold, who affirms that a truth we gain is not necessarily to be at once proclaimed, breaks silence as he has done, is this: That there is a general sense of the loss of the hold of religion on the masses, not only as an intellectual but as a moral power. And "those among the working class who eschew the teachings of the orthodox, slide off towards, not the late Mr. Maurice, nor yet Professor Huxley, but towards Mr. Bradlaugh.” When the Churches lament this, says Mr. Arnold, what they seek to restore is not religion pure and simple, but the Bible with their gloss upon it. And feeling this reenthronement to be for ever impossible, Mr. Arnold strives to get beneath the gloss, and to see what in the Bible is humanly and generally receivable, and so find its greatest common measure to all of us. As works designed for such an end, “ God and the Bible," and “Literature and Dogma” are too sprightly, too clever. To any but a highly intellectual man they will be confusing from the wide flashing of the thoughts they contain More warmth, steadiness, and sobriety would have given them the highest value. To follow ourselves for a moment humbly in the wake of Mr. Arnold's literary method, we may say that while ancient apostles and the greatest divines have been indeed “fishers of men” through their earnestness, he himself, by the play of his fancy, and its gyrations above the heads of the simpler men who cast the net, brings in a new element, and might rather be styled “a fly-fisher of men." He will take some pretty fish, perhaps among the monarchs of the pool, but he will not take so many as the steadier fisherman.
If, for instance, instead of his clever jeu d'esprit upon the Trinity and the three Lord Shaftesburys, he had shewn how the Trinitarian conception had really grown; what of value it held, and what of mere dogma and shibboleth, he would have shown a way to walk in to many a struggling soul, to whom the three Lord Shaftesburys may be only confusion. And yet we cannot but feel that his outspoken works are valuable contributions to thought, and aids toward a solution of present problems. The glory of "sweet reasonableness" is so sweetly shewn, the moral sense so finely clarified, the necessity of righteousness so gladly insisted upon, that few will be much the worse for reading these
books. They may feel Mr. Arnold to be rather in a balloon than an omnibus ; they may feel that he has lost his hold on the old faith in personal immortality; but if they have any of the old instinct left in them, they will appreciate that Mr. Arnold is too good ever to suffer annihilation,-too spiritual to absolutely believe in it.
Mr. Arnold's delicate perceptions have, we think, done rare and good service in reaching toward the Oriental manner of thought, especially with regard to the spiritual passages of the Fourth Gospel, some of which he really elucidates.
But his tendency, due to too narrow a study, is toward an ideal scepticism. For instance, he refers to the saying of Jesus, “The third day I shall be perfected,” as a reminiscence of Hosea vi. 1-2. There is truly a connection between them, but if Mr. Arnold had read farther, in the Parsee books, for instance, or in the Talmud, he might have found the key to both passages, and the opening of a deep psychological truth.
“Jesus,” says Mr. Arnold, “checked questions of theosophy." Yes, but because he did not wish to have to treat them as is done by revivalist preachers in order to fit them to take hold of the minds of the most undeveloped, not because he did not realise, in a way unknown to such as are less infra-natural, the glory and reality of God. Now, Mr. Arnold, in face of this difficulty of bringing the sublimest truths down to the lowest level, seems rather to proceed by attenuating them and making them unreal to himself.
Possibly in his inmost heart there are more mysteries than troubled his father's simpler faith, waiting to be solved in the time when one existence merges into another :
As the banks fade dimmer away,
Murmurs and scents of the infinite sea. Morality touched by emotion” is Mr. Arnold's definition of religion, a definition savouring too much of the manner of one whose principle is to set himself a subject for a task in poetry, then seek a stimulant for the imagination with which to give it that glow in which the topic ought to have appeared at first. But the word “emotion" may by some be understood as signifying feeling, though we take Mr Arnold for so great a purist in language that he could not forget in the word its sense of change and movement. Strictly construed, the definition means that in the still, quiet depths of our souls we cannot have religion abiding; that before the consciousness in us that makes the revelation of every day can be called religion, it must be moved and heightened. With persons tending to materiality of mind, it may be true that they must be deeply stirred before what may be called religion can reach them. But it is not necessarily so with all; there are wise and wellcontrolled religious souls of placid earnestness. If we are to call God “the power, not ourselves, which makes for righteousness,” why not call religion the instinct of that power?
In his theology it is on Miracle, that yielding before the scientific accuracy of the modern day, Mr. Arnold's mind shews its main weakness. He does not know enough of his subject, and so takes the tremendous leap of accounting supernaturalism fable. It might be imagined that as a consequence his whole system of faith would crumble; but no; the poetic element that mingles with his religious nature comes to his support, and he saves himself as a believer in the Bible by a renewed consciousness of its virtue, as the great inspirer of righteousness or beauty of conduct, and so the upholder of what is really three-fourths of life.
It seems to us cruel toward weaker minds to spend so much force in upsetting the dogma of the “magnified and non-natural man of popular theology," when strength might have been directed towards the work of making this best representation of the Eternal that many minds can yet reach, free from contradictions and repulsive elements. This would have helped many struggling souls; while to make the English mind, so much less imaginative as it is than the Oriental, strain to a metaphysical abstraction, is equivalent to taking from it a rude symbol which might contain more of secret fruitfulness than a scientific analysis of it could shew.
Before adopting new and definite views about the wisdom of the Hebrews, Mr. Arnold, as an apostle of culture, ought to have spent years in the study of the lore of Egypt, India, and Assyria. But though he is not indefinite, he is not dogmatic; and seeing that it is impossible for the most finished scientist to dogmatise effectively on abstract colour or abstract magnitude, the most materialistic should at least in logic permit Mr. Arnold his claim for thoughts “thrown out at a not fully grasped object of consciousness.” In claiming sympathy for states like this, so intelligible, and yet so little allowed for as things are, Mr. Arnold is rendering aid to the grand growth of tolerance, and opening room for hope.
Mr. Arnold's theological plan reminds us sometimes of one that was long in vogue with Jewish Rabbis, that of adhering to the verbal sanctity of the old law while informing it with a new spirit. Only the