Page:Historical Lectures and Addresses.djvu/178

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LAUD'S POSITION IN THE HISTORY OF THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND.[1]

We turn to the records of the past with a desire to escape from the perplexities which beset our judgment of the present. We long to find principles, clearly marked, working themselves out to a triumphant end. We pine for characters of majestic simplicity, whose integrity and wisdom are alike beyond dispute. It is sad to confess that the search for heroes is fruitless; that there are few characters which defy criticism; that the forms of controversy have changed rather than their nature; that men and women are still sons and daughters of debate; that the issues of the activity of those who played a great part in affairs are strangely complicated, and still make demands on our charity in judging them.

It is not my purpose to-day to eulogise the character of him whose memory we are met to celebrate. My object is to put before you the task which he undertook, and the difficulties which beset him. The judgment of history is necessarily stern; it can make no allowance for good intentions: it must pass beyond immediate success or failure, and must estimate

  1. A lecture given at All Hallows, Barking, on 10th January, 1895, in connexion with the commemoration of the 250th anniversary of the beheading of Archbishop Laud.