Page:History of Freedom.djvu/426

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382

ESSAYS ON LIBERTY

N orris and Malebranche. I-Ie encouraged the study of remoter luminaries, such as Cusa and Raymundus, whose Natural Theology he preferred to the All -'ogy ' and would not have men overlook some who are off the line, like Postel. But although he deemed it the mark of inferiority to neglect a grain of the gold of obsolete and eccentric , writers, he always assigned to original speculation a subordinate place, as a good servant but a bad master, without the certainty and authority of history. What one of his English friends \vrites of a divine they both admired, might fitly be applied to him:

He was a disciple in the school of Bishop Butler, and had learned as a first principle to recognise the limitations of human knowledge, and the unphilosophical folly of trying to round off into finished and pretentious schemes our fragmentary yet certain notices of our own condition and of God's dealing with it.

He alarmed Archer Gurney by saying that all hope of an understanding is at an end, if logic be applied for the rectification of dogma, and to Dr. Plummer, who acknow- ledged him as the most capable of modern theologians and historians, he spoke of the hopelessness of trying to discover the meaning of terms used in definitions. To his archbishop he wrote that men may discuss the mysteries of faith to the last day without avail; " we stand here on the solid ground of history, evidence, and fact." Expressing his innermost thought, that religion exists to make men better, and that the ethical quality of dogma constitutes its value, he once said: "Tantum valet quantum ad corrigendum, purgandum, sanctificandum hominem confert." In theology as an intellectual exercise, beyond its action on the soul, he felt less interest, and those disputes most satisfied him which can be decided by appeal to the historian. From his early reputation and his position at the outpost, confronting Protestant science, he \vas expected to make up his mind over a large area of unsettled thought and disputed fact, and to be provided with an opinion- a freehold opinion of his own-and a reasoned answer to