« PreviousContinue »
IN THE NINETEENTH CENTURY
Rev. JOHN HUNT, D. D.
OF THE UNIVERSITY OF ST ANDREWS
VICAR OF OTFORD IN KENT
AUTHOR OF RELIGIOUS THOUGHT IN ENGLAND FROM THE REFORMATION
TO THE END OF THE LAST CENTURY.
GIBBINGS & CO., LIMITED
I do not judge, I only record,' said Goethe, as he followed the great discussion before the French Academy, between Cuvier and St Hilaire, concerning the mutability of species. Some men write critical histories, some philosophical, and others write in the interests of a party ; but merely to give premisses or, at the most, to indicate conclusions has been the object of the writer of this volume. This may not be satisfactory to all readers as most people like a guide, and prefer one who agrees with their present convictions, and this agreement is taken as confirmation of what they already believe, while the impartial record often too plainly indicates that some of the most cherished beliefs must be relegated to the category of what the Germans call 'stand-points overcome.' What many once regarded as the very essence of Christianity must often now be set aside as merely amongst the accidents, and the result is that the consolation of many a devout soul is for a time inexorably swept away ; but Milton once wrote, * All opinions, all errors, known, read and collated, are of much service and assistance towards the speedy attainment of what is truth.' To refute error it is often enough merely to state it clearly.
The first and most obvious lesson to be learnt from the record of the religious thought of this century is the necessity for toleration, or the duty of impartially weighing beliefs other than our own.
Whatever estimate we make of Revelation no