[To THE EDITOR OF THE "SPECTATOR. "] Sra,—Two passages in the
Spectator of November 14th on Dr. Martineau's last great work must come home to many religions but unlearned readers, as indicating the doubts and difficulties they have encountered in perusing the book. You say : " The
marvel is that he can speak with such inspiring fervour of the attenuated fragments which he continues to accept." Also : " If Dr. Martineau's view of the Scriptures is correct, they cannot be recommended for ordinary use," &c.
Many readers mast feel they can hardly endure the sacrifices which Dr. Martineau calls upon them to make. For instance, how many devout persons are deeply impressed with the fitness of the words, " I will arise," &c., prescribed as proper for the opening of daily morning and evening prayer ! And these- persons must feel their devotions injured when they are told by a great authority that these words were not uttered by Christ, that this lesson of fatherly forgiveness is not his.. Again, how many generations of worshippers have • found consolation and religious support from the later chapters of the Fourth Gospel ! And yet, in the interest of truth, these chapters, according to Dr. Martineau, ought either to be expunged from future editions, or, if admitted,. should be accompanied by a warning that, as utterances of Christ, they are not authentic. The same may be said of the deeply cherished passage to which you refer,—the invitation to the heavy-laden.
Plain people of deep faith to whom all these passages of Scripture have hitherto been words to live by, must feel utterly disturbed when told to give them up by a revered religious leader like Dr. Martineau. They feel aversion to teaching. They cannot spare these ancient helps to- faith now ruthlessly knocked away,—no testimony paid to their value, not a word of homage to the truly noble minds- from whom they really came.
Possibly our respect for Dr. Martineau ought to be raised by his apparently ruthless destruction of cherished landmarks,. which he finds to be misleading. His own fervour and spiritual imagination are sufficient to fill up the perfect figure from the "attenuated fragments" you speak of. Others attempt,. but only painfully attempt, to go with him.—I am, Sir, &c., A. B.