Page:Tracts for the Times Vol 2.djvu/10

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been validated.

more accurate language which is now very generally adopted among well-judging men on ecclesiastical subjects, we must beware of over-estimating what has been done, and so becoming sanguine in our hopes of success, or slackening our exertions to secure it. Many more persons, doubtless, have taken up a profession of the main doctrine in question, that, namely, of the One Catholic and Apostolic Church, than fully enter into it. This is to be expected, it being the peculiarity of all religious teaching, that words are imparted before ideas. A child learns his Creed or Catechism before he understands it; and in beginning any deep subject we are all but children to the end of our lives. The instinctive perception of a rightly instructed mind, the primâ facie force of the argument, or the authority of our celebrated writers, have all had their due and extensive influence in furthering the reception of the doctrine, when once it was openly maintained; to which must be added the prospect of the loss of state protection, which made it necessary to look out for other reasons for adherence to the Church besides that of obedience to the civil magistrate. Nothing, which has spread quickly, has been received thoroughly. Doubtless there are a number of seriously-minded persons, who think they admit the doctrine in question much more fully than they do, and who would be startled at seeing that realized in particulars, which they confess in an abstract form. Many there are who do not at all feel that it is capable of a practical application; and, while they bring it forward on special occasions, in formal expositions of faith, or in answer to a direct interrogatory, let it slip from their minds ahnost entirely in their daily conduct or their religious teaching, from the long and inveterate habit of thinking and acting without it. We must not then at all be surprised at finding, that to modify the principles and motives on which men act is not the work of a day; nor at undergoing disappointments, at witnessing relapses, misconceptions, sudden disgusts, and, on the other hand, abuses and perversions of the true doctrine, in the case of those who have taken it up with greater warmth than discernment.