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For the impulse which these divines have given to the public mind, they must, on all hands, be regarded as entitled to public thanks: while their personal qualifications cannot but secure to them the highest personal consideration. Learned without pedantry, earnest without rancour, grave, even to severity, yet without moroseness, singular, (for they are the champions of neglected truth,) yet perfectly unaffected; uncompromising, yet not ungentle; blending their strict and erudite orthodoxy with the most edifying and persuasive piety, they have furnished a model of controversial writing, which cannot be too generally imitated. I speak, be it remembered, of the manner, not the matter, of their teaching. If these writers maintain any views really peculiar, if they differ essentially in doctrine from the great ecclesiastical writers of their own Church, in whose steps they profess to tread, if they exhibit any defection from the principles of the Reformation, as actually worked out in this country, (for we are surely not bound by the casual expressions of individual controversialists,) such views are not willingly adopted in these Sermons. If, to speak plainly, they have failed to distinguish between a true symbol, and the idol which, in the absence of an intelligent faith, it inevitably becomes, or confounded the ineffable and incomprehensible substance, with its earthly representative; if they have done this, not in particular cases, but in their conception of the visible Church at large; if, consequently, in picturing the beauty of holiness, they have exhibited the form without the
life; if they have given to Church authority the attributes of dogmatism, and instead of moral docility required an intellectual subjection; if, in questioning the right of private interpretation, (the right, as it is commonly understood, of judging without knowledge, and deciding without evidence, as it is commonly practised, of slighting everything that is venerable, disputing everything that is approved, and profaning everything that is holy,) they have invaded the sacred prerogative of reason; if, in drawing a parallel between the errors of Romanism on the one hand, and of the Protestant body on the other, they have shown as much over-tenderness to the corruptions of the former, as over-harshness to the mistakes and excesses of the latter, (let it be understood that these positions are stated hypothetically, in a spirit of caution and self-distrust,) waiting for the determination of riper judgment, and above all of the
Αμέραι δ ̓ ἐπίλοιποι
with these views I have nothing in common; with the tone of feeling out of which they spring, a very limited sympathy. But taking their opinions for that which in the main they are, the traditional doctrines of the English Church, as represented in her ordinances, and accredited by the great majority of her divines, though accidentally unpopular in the present age, Church doctrines, interpreted in doubtful, and adjusted in undecided cases, by the great catholic
authorities, with these opinions I freely avow my general concurrence, and would gladly devote my best energies to uphold, to explain, and to recommend them.
To the writers on the other side of the question,alas! that learned, able, and pious men, should have to struggle with each other, instead of banding their forces against their common enemy, the spirit of this wretched, blind, and unbelieving world,-I am, of course, opposed in opinion, but in opinion merely; I cheerfully and gratefully avow the benefit which I have derived, intellectually and morally, from the perusal of their writings. A straight-forward simplicity of mind, a paramount love of truth, and a genial faith, spreading itself over the whole surface of life,-these on the one hand, and, again, a most vigorous understanding, scattering light in its rapid and excursive course, and presenting perhaps a partial, but still a luminous and instructive view of every subject which passes, however transiently, under its review,-such are the moral and intellectual qualities, which distinguish the most eminent of those Christian teachers, whose anti-ecclesiastical bias' is so deeply regretted by the lovers of the English Church.
'That new form exhibited a marked and recognised division between the so-called secular and spiritual powers, and thereby has maintained in Christian Europe the unhappy distinction which necessarily prevailed in the heathen empire between the Church and the State; a distinction now so deeply seated in our laws, our language, and our very notions, that nothing less than a miraculous interposition of God's providence seems capable, within any definite time, of eradicating it.-ARNOLD'S Hist. Rome, Vol. i. p. 8, 9.
But I lie under deeper and nearer obligations, too deep to be passed over in silence, too near, it may perhaps be thought, to be acknowledged except in this distant and respectful allusion. If there be any value in the imperfect Essay which these remarks are intended to introduce, if, under more favourable circumstances, I should be enabled to redeem its numerous deficiencies, in some maturer production; I shall account it my highest praise, if it shall be said by any competent reader that I have been indebted to the same source for my intellectual and natural life.
And, now, if I trusted to my own impulse, I should conclude. It is not, indeed, altogether by a feeling of delicacy that I am held back from speaking more particularly of my revered father's religious opinions. Samuel Taylor Coleridge as an individual
The transitory being who beheld
belongs to the past. The endearing ties which connected him with the shifting scene, which he has left, are become a shadowy recollection; and if the unforgotten name which he bore, and which will not cease to be associated with certain forms of beauty and of truth, still hover as an inspiring presence over those to whom it has descended in the way of earthly kindred, in a still higher sense, the spirit and power of that name, is the common property of all to whom it may be helpful-all who seeking enlightenment, in conformity with the will and revelation of God in Christ, may, at any time, be benefited by its guidance. This
restraint, therefore, is either taken off, or overcome by à higher motive. It is a sense of my inability to pursue this topic in a manner satisfactory to my own judgment, which seems to impose upon me the necessity of a cautious reserve. Had I felt myself equal to the task of giving to the world a popular view of my honoured father's theology, involved as it is in a philosophical system, not more profound than practical,- (if to awaken new faculties of thought, and to direct them to the highest ends, be a substantial benefit, and lead to the most important consequences, a system of philosophy no less practical than profound ;)—a philosophy, let me add, already influencing the intellect of this country, though in silence, to a considerable extent, and destined, as I believe, to give a new impulse to metaphysical, if not to physical, inquiry, for ages to come; destined, above all, "to vindicate the ways of God to man," with a force of evidence of inappreciable value to meditative and penetrating minds; were I possessed of knowledge, opportunity, or talents qualifying me for the office of his interpreter, I should assuredly not have shrunk from the labour or the responsibility of the undertaking'. As it is, the following pages must be judged on their own merits: and though I gladly attribute whatever worth they may
It is indeed a happiness to all who revere the name of Coleridge, that the business of editing his writings has been accepted by a member of his family every way so well able to do justice both to the man and to his genius. Henry Nelson Coleridge, will not, I trust, refuse me the pleasure of tendering him, in my own name, and in that of all concerned, this public expression of our affectionate thanks.