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Justice. On the return of Napoleon from Elba, he went into exile with Louis XVIII., who kept him in office, and in his thirtieth year he was appointed Counselor of State. He now became more distinctly a "doctrinaire," how could a mind like his be anything else? The fall of Decazes dismissed the young statesman and philosopher again to private life, and very fortunately, for now commenced that career of historicophilosophical labors which has given him his highest recog nition in the learned world. He has not only produced many historical works, large and small, of original and inestimable importance, though some of them be but essays or brochures, but he has superintended the publication of "The Collection. of Memoirs Relative to the History of England," twenty-six volumes, and "The Collection of Memoirs Relative to the History of France, from the Foundation of the Monarchy to the Thirteenth Century," with Dissertations and Notes, a great historical monument of more than thirty volumes. He resumed public life as a statesman in 1848, but did not abandon authorship. He has been a journalist, politician, cabinet minister, foreign embassador, professor, lecturer on history, (with a published "Cours d'Histoire Moderne" of five volumes,) and withal a steadfast but always considerate advocate of the religion of his fathers, a good but moderate Protestant, sharing in the councils and anniversary assemblies of his fellowHuguenots. His political career, as minister under Louis Philippe, concluded his life as a statesman; it has since been consecrated to literature, social amenities, and religion. He ends his Preface to his present work with these words:
I have passed thirty-five years of my life in struggling, on a bustling arena, for the establishment of political liberty and the maintenance of order as established by law. I have learned, in the labors and trials of this struggle, the real worth of Christian Faith and of Christian Liberty. God permits me, in the repose of my retreat, to consecrate to their cause what remains to me of life and strength. It is the most salutary favor and the greatest honor that I can receive from his goodness.
The immediate purpose of this work is to meet the exigency of Christianity presented in the latest form of skepticism. It treats of the "essence of Christianity," but in reference to "the religious questions of the day." These questions have
long been agitating Germany; they have appeared, in our day, like a sudden eruption in England; they have for some years been more or less rife in France; but in the latter country Rénan's "Life of Jesus" has been the signal of their more violent outbreak. Guizot presents himself among the contestants in behalf of the Christian faith, and he does so in the best possible manner. He hardly mentions the leaders of the opposition, or their works; he defers that necessity or courtesy to a later period in his task. The new skepticism is distinctly critical and historical; it must be met on historical and critical grounds, it cannot be effectually met otherwise. The perplexed inquirer will not, therefore, find in the present volume a direct solution of his difficulties; but he will find what, for the present, is better, a necessary preparation for their solution, a thorough clearing away of impediments. And more than this; for the modern critical skepticism proceeds tacitly or avowedly from certain preliminary assumptions, not at all in themselves historical, but giving inestimable plausibility or force to the historical or critical matters of fact which make up most of the data of its logic. The possibility or probability of miracles, the nature or degree of "inspiration," the "natural and the supernatural," are questions which lie in front of the controversy and cast their reflection over its whole perspective. To these Guizot now addresses himself; but his plan is comprehensive of the entire scope of the field of contest. He says:
The Meditations will be divided into four series. In the first, which forms this volume, I explain and establish what constitutes, in my opinion, the essence of the Christian religion; that is to say, what those natural problems are that correspond with the fundamental dogmas that offer their solution, the supernatural facts upon which these same dogmas repose: Creation, Revelation, the Inspiration of the Scriptures, God according to the Biblical account, and Jesus according to the Gospel narrative. Next to the essence of the Christian religion comes its history; and this will be the subject of a second series of Meditations, in which I shall examine the authenticity of the Scriptures, the primary causes of the foundation of Christianity, Christian Faith, as it has always existed throughout its different ages and in spite of all its vicissitudes; the great religions crisis in the sixteenth century which divided the Church and Europe between Roman Catholicism and Protestantism; finally, those different antichristian crises which at different epochs and in different countries have set in question and
imperiled Christianity itself, but which dangers it has ever surmounted. The third Meditation will be consecrated to the study of the actual state of the Christian religion, its internal and external condition: I shall retrace the regeneration of Christianity which occurred among us at the commencement of the nineteenth century, both in the Church of Rome and in the Protestant Churches; the impulse imparted to it at the same epoch by the Spiritualistic Philosophy that then began again to flourish, and the movement in the contrary direction which showed itself very remarkably soon afterward in the resurrection of Materialism, of Pantheism, of Skepticism, and in works of historical criticism. I shall attempt to determine the idea, and consequently, in my opinion, the fundamental error of these different systems, the avowed and active enemies of Christianity. Finally, in the fourth series of these Meditations I shall endeavor to discriminate and to characterize the future destiny of the Christian religion, and to indicate by what course it is called upon to conquer completely and to sway morally this little corner of the universe termed by us our earth, in which unfold themselves the designs and power of God, just as, doubtless, they do in an infinity of worlds unknown to us.
The interesting spectacle is, then, here presented of one of the most commanding intellects of the age entering the arena of modern religious skepticism to accept, with the calmness of mature years and the vigor of the richest culture, all its challenges. Not only one of the most commanding intellects, but we may say the most commanding one, especially in the department of inquiry to which this first volume is devoted. As author of the "History of Civilization," Guizot is placed by our best authorities "at the head" of that school of modern writers which is distinguished "for historical generalization as well as powers of narration;"" and one of his cotemporaries, in a work crowned by the French Academy, has acknowledged that he has transformed historical literature.+ He has done so by his rare power of logic, by the unrivaled manner in which he has exemplified the maxim that "history is philosophy teaching by example." A keener insight than that of Guizot, into the philosophy of historical questions, is not to be found within the lids of books, ancient or modern. The "religious questions of the day" are, as we have said, chiefly historical or critical; but it is not the historical or crit
*Encyclopædia Britannica, last edition.
Capefigue's History of Philippe Auguste: Preface.
ical scholar who can best meet them; he may best propound their difficulties, but he cannot best solve them; their solution must be made by the historical, the philosophical logician; and such is Guizot, pre-eminently above most if not all thinkers of
His unexpected devotion to this great task, as the final work of his life, is not only gratefully interesting to the whole Christian world, but can hardly fail to excite much solicitude. There is somewhat of grave venture to the common Christian cause in it. His success or failure will be of serious importance to the issues of the contest. Such a man must leave the field with unquestionable trophies, or it would almost seem lost, temporarily at least. We close his first volume with calm assurance; we can hardly doubt that not its immediate but its final effect on the "Historical School" of religious thought, will be similar to that which his masterly work on "Civilization" has had on the historical literature of Europe.
Guizot begins at the beginning; he interrogates humanity, and finding that it has certain "natural religious problems," he proceeds to show that these problems, fundamental in humanity, correspond with the fundamental provisions or truths of Christianity. His method is therefore philosophically logical, as much so as that which leads the anatomist to infer, from man's organic structure, that the lungs are correlative to the air, the eye to light, the ear to sound, and that the author of man's organization must be the author of these corresponding provisions.
Guizot contends that, from the very origin of the human race, wherever man has existed or now exists, certain religious questions have been instinctive or spontaneous, and also irrepressible, in his nature.
Whence does the world proceed, and whence does man appear in the midst of it? What is the origin of each, and whither does each tend? What are their beginning and their end? Laws there are which govern them; is there a legislator? Under the empire of these laws, man feels and calls himself free: is he so in reality? How is his liberty compatible with the laws which govern him and the world? Is he a passive instrument of fate, or a responsible agent? What are the ties and relations which connect him with the Legislator of the world? The world and man himself present a strange and painful spectacle. Good and evil,
both moral and physical, order and disorder, joy and sorrow, are intimately blended and yet in continual antagonism. Whence come this commingling and this strife? Is good or is evil the condition and the law of man and of the world? If good, how then has evil found admission? Wherefore suffering and death? Why this moral disorder; the calamities which so frequently befall the good, and the prosperity, so abhorrent to our feelings, which attends the wicked? Is this the normal and definitive state of man and of the world? Man is conscious that he is at the same time great and little, strong and feeble, powerful and impotent. He finds in himself matter for admiration and for love, and yet he suffices not to himself in any respect; he seeks an aid, a support, beyond and above himself: he asks, he invokes, he prays. What mean these inward disquietudes, these alternate impulses of pride and weakness? Have they, or not, a meaning and an object? Why prayer? Such are the natural problems, now dimly felt, now clearly defined, which in all ages and among all nations, in every form and in every degree of civilization, by instinct or by reflection, have arisen, and still arise, in the human mind. I indicate only the greatest, the most apparent: I might recall many others which are connected with them.
These "problems" are the foundation of all the religions of history. They are not only natural to man, but they are peculiar to him, because a moral nature is peculiar to him. "Animals," as Chateaubriand says, "are not troubled with those hopes which fill the heart of man: the spot on which they tread yields them all the happiness of which they are susceptible: a little grass satisfies the sheep; a little blood gluts the tiger. The only creature that looks beyond himself, and is not all in all to himself, is man."
The moral system, or religion, which best meets these instinctive demands of the soul in their most normal form, must be the best, must be the true religion. If essential Christianity meets them, then is it true; as veritable a provision for the soul as the atmosphere is for the lungs, as light for the eye. Nor does this view of the subject justify the attempt of many really noble minds, to escape the anxieties of a religious crisis. like the present by cherishing merely religious sentimentalities. Says our author:
I cannot contemplate unmoved the troubles of lofty minds, seeking in the religious sentiment alone a refuge against doubt and impiety. It is well to preserve, in the shipwreck of faith and the chaos of thought, the great instincts of our nature, and not to lose sight of the sublime requirements which remain unsatisfied.