ON A VOLUME ENTITLED
"ESSAYS AND REVIEWS:"
ADDRESSED TO THE
UNDERGRADUATE MEMBERS OF ORIEL COLLEGE.
MY Friends,—I have determined to address to yourselves the present remarks; their subject, a volume which has recently obtained such a degree of notoriety that it is almost superfluous even to specify it by name.
With unfeigned reluctance do I mix myself up in this strife; but the course of events, when I first took up my pen, left me almost without an alternative. Far more reluctant should I be to seem to make yourselves the arbiters of Theological controversy. But in truth nothing is further from my present intention. As a plain matter of fact, you are called upon weekly, at St. Mary's, to listen to Sermons which indicate plainly enough the troubled state of the religious atmosphere; and which, of late, (too frequently alas!) have inevitably assumed a controversial aspect. The Sermons here published, (which form the constructive part of the present volume,) were preached expressly with an eye to your advantage, and were intended to warn you against (what I deemed) a very serious danger. It is only natural therefore that I should desire to address to yourselves the present remarks likewise. You are, naturally, objects of special solicitude to myself in this place,—you, with whom I live as among friends, and for not a few of whom I entertain a sincere affection. And in addressing you, I am not by any means inviting you to exercise your own theological judgment; for that would indeed be an absurd proceeding. I am simply seeking to instruct you, and to guide you with mine.
The case of "Essays and Reviews" is, in fact, altogether exceptional,—whether the respectability of its authors, the wickedness of its contents, or the reception which it has met with, is considered. That volume embodies the infidel spirit of the present day. Turn where you will, you encounter some criticism upon it. No advertizing column but contains repeated mention of its name. To ignore so flagrant a scandal to the Church, is quite impossible. I have thought it better, therefore, to encounter the danger in this straightforward way; and I proceed, without further preamble, to remark briefly on each of the Seven "Essays and Reviews," in order.