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molehills. At any rate we might avoid those personal collisions, which tend only to confirm opponents in erroneous views, and to weaken and destroy the Church.
So, to come back to the point from which we set out, if the members of the Christian Knowledge Society cannot act harmoniously together, it would be much better, in my opinion, that they should divide into two societies, or a dozen, if they please, rather than afford an arena for contention and bitterness.
“Give any boon for peace.
“ If blessed Paul had stay'd
In cot or learned shade,
We have already said that Exeter Hall was an object of interest to Mr. Herbert; though he went simply as a spectator, not as a performer.
It is difficult, (said he to Ridley, after hearing a brilliant display of eloquence at one of these politico-religious assemblies), to decide as to the advantage or disadvantage of such oratorical exhibitions. Many persons of sound judgment, I am aware, set their face altogether against platform speaking, as productive of more harm than good; while others as strenuously encourage it.
RIDLEY. As far as I have observed, those who are themselves good speakers advocate the use of the platform, while it is usually depreciated by those who do not shine on such occasions.
When we consider how imperceptibly men are biassed by their own feelings, we might have anticipated such a decision, without any great want of charity. As for myself, I am inclined to consider the use of the platform as a necessary measure of self defence. Our opponents, of every political and religious denomination, employ it to obtain influence, or at least notoriety. We ought not to allow them any advantage, or yield to them in the use of any legitimate weapon. And I willingly render my humble homage of thanks to those able speakers who stand up publicly in defence of the Church, or promote the interests of those societies which are connected with it.
RIDLEY. One obvious advantage is, that unquestionably funds are obtained in this manner for useful purposes which are not forthcoming by any other process. The charity of many persons requires a strong stimulus before it can be roused to action. A good speaker has a wonderful effect to unloose the purse-strings. In fact, many persons do not think of the duty of setting apart a portion of their funds for religious purposes, unless it is forcibly urged upon them. Very few indeed carry it to the extent which even they themselves, if they seriocsly reflected, would acknowledge to be required by Christian principle.
HERBERT. I fear, however, that the true principle of charitable contribution is too often lost sight of on these occasions. People are encouraged in the mistaken habit of giving to charity only what they will not miss, instead of devoting to God's glory sums which they would really feel the loss of. They contribute, as they say, with affected humility, their mite; forgetting that the poor widow, whom our Lord commended, cast into the treasury all she had. The true principle of liberal contributions for God's glory ought to be strongly urged both from the pulpit and the platform.
But another, and, to my mind, the most important reason, for the use of the platform is, that it affords opportunity for discussing political measures on religious grounds. If politics are excluded from our pulpits, and religion from the debates in parliament, the platform is the only place in which their true connexion can be publicly set forth. In my opinion religion and politics are inseparable. A politician without religion is a pest to society; and a religious man, who takes no part in politics, neglects one of his most important social duties. If this principle be true, it follows, that it is part of a preacher's office to remind his hearers of this connexion, and to bring the Scriptures to bear upon the great points of national policy; but at the same time, I acknowledge that it is inconvenient to discuss the details of the political measures of the day. For instance, while a preacher maintains strenuously on scriptural grounds the value of a Church Establishment, and the duty of educating the rising generation in the principles of the Scriptures and the Church, it is out of place for him to discuss in the pulpit the details of a church-rate bill, or to give Lord Brougham's scheme for