for our guidance as matters of fact, to offer warrant and condonation for the greatest crimes, or to sink to the level of the most palpable absurdities.
In this, as in all other theological discussions, it is interesting to note how character colors religious feeling and conduct. The reception into Christ's kingdom has been emphatically described as being born again. A certain likeness of feature among Christians ought, one would think, to result from a common spiritual parentage. But the likeness is not observed. Christian communities embrace some of the loftiest and many of the lowest of mankind. It may be urged that the lofty ones only are truly religious. To this it is to be replied that the others are often as religious as their natures permit them to be. Character is here the overmastering force. That religion should influence life in a high way implies the preëxistence of natural dignity. This is the mordant which fixes the religious dye. He who is capable of feeling the finer glow of religion would possess a substratum available for all the relations of life, even if his religion were taken away. Religion, on the other hand, does not charm away malice, or make good defects of character. I have already spoken of persecution in its meaner forms. On the lower levels of theological warfare such are commonly resorted to. If you reject a dogma on intellectual grounds, it is because there is a screw loose in your morality; some personal sin besets and blinds you; the intellect is captive to a corrupt heart. Thus good men have been often calumniated by others who were not good; thus frequently have the noble become a target for the wicked and the mean. With the advance of public intelligence the day of such assailants is happily drawing to a close.
These reflections, which connect themselves with reminiscences outside the Sabbath controversy, have been more immediately prompted by the aspersions cast by certain Sabbatarians upon those who differ from them. Mr. Cox notices and reproves some of these. According to the Scottish Sabbath Alliance, for example, all who say that the Sabbath was an exclusively Jewish institution, including, be it noted, such men as Jeremy Taylor and Milton, "clearly prove either their dishonesty or ignorance, or inability to comprehend a very plain and simple subject." This becomes real humor when we compare the speakers with the persons spoken of. A distinguished English dissenter, who deals in a lustrous but rather cloudy logic, declares that whoever asks demonstration of the divine appointment of the Christian Sabbath "is
- Melanchthon writes finely thus: "Wherefore our decision is this: that those precepts which learned men have committed to writing, transcribing them from the common reason and common feelings of human nature, are to be accounted as no less divine than those contained in the tables of Moses."—(Dugald Stewart's translation.) Hengstenberg quotes from the same reformer as follows: "The law of Moses is not binding upon us, though some things which the law contains are binding, because they coincide with the law of nature."—(See Cox, vol. i, p. 389.) The Catechism of the Council of Trent expresses a similar view. There are, then, "data of ethics" over and above the revealed ones.