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Such was the principle of catholicity-so continually inforced in those Scriptures which recommend us to the preservation of the uniting spirit in the bond of peacesuch was the principle of catholicity which the Greeks, in very early times, ex. pressed by the word syncretism. Plutarch, in his “Essay de Fraterno Amore," derives the verb ovykpnticw from the Island of Crete, “The tribes of which, (says he), endeavoured to protect themselves by coalition against internal feuds and attacks from without."
Another etymology has been proposed by Dr. Rees, in his Cyclopædia. "The name syncretists (says he) is formed from ovykpivw, I compare, or reconcile, and is used to denote, in general, persons who, from a variety of discordant opinions, either in religion or philosophy, form a kind of comprehensive and pacific system, with a view of uniting the several parties who maintain such opinions. The moderate men, as they are called, of every persuasion, may be comprehended under this denomination."
"At a later period (says the Encyclopædia Americana) the word received another shade of meaning, and was derived from the Greek ovv and kepavvu (to mix). In the 15th century, when the study of ancient literature was revived in Italy, and Plato came into repute, in addition to Aristotle, some eclectic scholars, as John Picus Mirandola, Bessarion, and others, who honoured Plato much, but were unwilling to give up Aristotle entirely, were called syncretists."
But the name "syncretists” was far more generally applied to the great ecclesiastical pacificators of the 16th and 17th centuries. Under this name were comprehended Reuchlin, Erasmus, Vives, Cassander, and Vicelius, and other eminent worthies of the same period. See Rango's “Historia Syncretismi a Mundo Condito," Calovius's “Historia Syncretismi" and other books quoted by Mosheim and Walchius in his “ Bibliotheca Selecta.”
The name of syncretists became still more popular in Germany about the begin. ning of the 17th century, when George Calixtus, Professor of Theology at Helmstadt, having acquired liberal opinions far in advance of his age, attempted a union of various religious parties. “He was a man (says Mosheim) of distinguished abilities and merits, and had few equals in his century, either in point of learning or genius ; and he acted in consistence with the oath to which the professors of divinity at Helmstadt bind themselves on their admission, to use their best and most zealous endeavours to heal the divisions, and terminate the contests that prevail among Christians."
The principles on which Calixtus's uniting and pacific plan was founded were, that the fundamental doctrines of Christianity, by which he meant those elementary principles from which all its truths flow, were preserved pure and entire in all three communions, Roman, Lutheran, and Reformed, and were contained in that ancient form of doctrine, usually known by the name of the Apostle's Creed.
The grand coalitionary and eclectic system of Calixtus and the foreign syncretists, was adopted in Great Britain by the ablest divines of the 17th century, who were, for the most part, syncretists of the highest order, and endeavoured to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. “This noble and truly evangelical method of proceeding (says Mosheim), procured its authors the denomination of Latitudinarians. The chief leaders of these Latitudinarians were Hales and Chillingworth, Wake, More, Cudworth, Gale, Whichcote, Tillotson, names that are still pronounced in England with that veneration which is due to distinguished wisdom, and rational piety." See an admirable defence of the Latitudinarian divines in a book entitled “The Principles and Practice of certain moderate Divines of the Church of England (greatly misunderstood) truly Represented and Defended. London, 1670.” This book was written by Bishop Fowler.
Such is a brief sketch of the history of the syncretic, or eclectic policy in church and state. That policy has been, time immemorial, supported by the most eminent writers of the Jewish, the Papal, and the Protestant Churches.
In the Jewish Church, we find syncretism supported by Philo, Josephus, Maimonides, Aben Ezra, Riccius, Rittangel, and the more enlightened Jews of our own country, whose conversion to Christianity would be much facilitated by a full grant of all the religious and civil privileges of natural-born subjects.
Among the Roman Catholics, we find syncretism supported by Bossuet, Fenelon, Du Pin, Cane, Ganganelli, Geddes, Hayvarden, Sir Thomas More, Erasmus, Huet, Cassander, Burigni, Montesquieu, Voltaire, Courayer, Berresford, Murray, Doyle, Charles Butler, and 0. Croly.
Among the Protestants, we find syncretism supported by Grotius, Casaubon, Junius, Wake, Le Clerc, Liebnitz, Pareus, Dureus, Amyrald, Puffendorf, Bacon, Selden, Locke, Huntington, Baxter, Burnel, Baron de Storch, Mason, Nightingale, Schlegel, Tieck, Novalis, Stark, Guizot, Tancred, Noel, and all the writers cited in that excellent little work of Evans, entitled, “The Golden Centenary ; or, One Hundred Testimonies in behalf of Candour, Peace, and Unanimity. By Divines of the Church of England, of the Kirk of Scotland, and among Protestant Dissenters."
It is, therefore, with no small satisfaction, that we see our friends gallantly reviving the great and majestic cause of syncretism, advocated as it is by the authority of the wisest and the best of men. The cause so dear to Erasmus and Bossuet, Wake and Porteus, and, in our own day, Smith and Noel, and clergymen of still higher rank.
This true and genuine syncretism, eclecticism, or latitudinarianism, which takes the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, in all sects and parties, is not a whit the less glorious or honourable, because it has been sometimes aped and mimicked by a spurious and mongrel kind of syncretism, eclecticism, or latitudinarianism, which, under the name of indifferentism, has attempted to harmonise things essentially discordant, to confound truth and error, good and evil, virtue and vice. It is the fate of every grand and glorious doctrine thus to be mimicked, parodied, and caricatured by a sophistical counterfeit, which accompanies the original.
Thus have we endeavoured to give a faithful sketch of the history of the Catholic principle, and the Syncretists, Unionists, or Coalitionists, who have acted on it. Such is the resplendent theory and design of those illustrious pacificators who pursue the golden paths of philanthropy and patriotism. These are the men who would once more proclaim the mystic words, “ Fiat Lux," amidst this sable chaos of schisms and factions. These are the men who would compose a new Irenicum for the wounds inflicted by the mutual recriminations that exacerbate and exulcerate the hearts of men. They are doomed, by the inevitable necessity of apocalyptic prophecies, to a certain and assured triumph, though their intermediate experience may be arduous, harzardous, and painful.
Such are the men who, building on the Divine revelation, carry its majestic and all-illuminating doctrines forward in their search for universal truth. “This universal truth (says Milton) came once into the world with her Divine Master, and was a perfect shape and glorious to look upon. But when he ascended, and his apostles were laid asleep, then straight arose a wicked set of deceivers, who-as the story goes of the Egyptian Typhon with his conspirators, how they dealt with the god Osiris-took the virgin Truth, hewed her lovely form into a thousand pieces, and scattered them to the four winds. From that time ever since, the sad friends of Truth, such as durst appear imitating the careful search that Isis made for the mangled body of Osiris, went up and down gathering limb by limb still as they could find them. We have not yet found them all, Lords and Commons, nor ever shall do, till her Master's second coming-he shall bring together every joint and member, and shall mould them into an immortal chef-d'ouvre of loveliness and perfection."
Thus it has ever fared with catholic and syncretic spirits who have soared to the upper firmament of all-embracing verity. They have ever been the grandest and noblest of mankind. Syncretists are necessarily great men ; and no man was ever truly great but by his syncretism. Catholicity is the very key to that permanent and undeparting fame to which we now selfishly aspira. It is not wonderful, therefore, that when we would cite the names of syncretists, we are obliged to announce the greatest men that have ever lived. Little and vulgar souls can by no possibility become syncretic ; they never rise beyond their sect or party. It is only those to whom God himself gives wisdom and largeness of heart, that ascend into the syncretic theory and temper. Such men, and only such, exhibit an august and consistent progress. Their course is like that of the shining light, which shines more and more unto the perfect day. They are born and educated for immortal dignity, which they cannot lose. They look calmly down on the stormy convulsions of temporising partisans, and, by the radiance of their initiated philosophy, disperse the grosser vapours of prejudice and passion. They resemble the steady star that shines with inextinguishable and useful lustre to guide adventurous mariners on the ever-murmuring ocean, rather than the wild and corruscating meteors that N. S.-VOL. I
glare for an instant with portentous scintillations, and then sink into the blackness of darkness for ever.
If we could possibly be misunderstood by any intelligent mind, we should still console ourselves with the conviction, that we shall be duly appreciated and supported among our syncretic brethren of the Freemasonic lodges. The initiated fraternity, who best understand the nature of the Catholic and Syncretic coalition we advocate, always cleave to each other with a swom and inviolable sympathy. They know how to defend each other and make their common cause finally triumphant. They know that this syncretic principle of universal truth, charity, and conciliation, is the only one on which the Christian philosopher, philanthropist, or patriot, can ever act securely and consistently. They know that the dignity and elevation of this principle is supreme, because the spirit of union must necessarily be higher than the spirit of party; and they know that the amplitude and boundlessness of this principle is unrivalled, because it is capable of including whatever is good in all sects and parties, ancient and modern.
The maintenance of this principle does the Freemasonic body the more credit, because most of their contemporaries have fallen away from the lofty canon of Christian union, into the seducing sophistries of faction. The lodge of initiation at present affords one of the strongest rallying points for those syncretists and coalitionists who seek to reconcile ecclesiastical and political sects, be they Papists or Protestants, high Churchmen, low Churchmen, Dissenters, Tories, Whigs, or Radicals.
We shall conclude the present essay by showing the bearing of catholicity, or syncretism, on the rights of liberty and the rights of peace. It has not been so generally understood as it will be, that the liberality and enlargement after which all aspire, are necessarily and inseparably connected with the spirit of syncretism, coalition, and eclecticism. And yet nothing is clearer or more demonstrable, if we bring intellectual analysis to bear on the question.
What is liberty but" the power of thinking and doing all that is consistent with individual and general welfare ?" Now, it is plain that this power must flourish most in those syncretic, or coalitionary, states, in which all members try to agree as far as they can, and each member may agree to differ in matters of particular conviction, without being opposed or fettered by the hostility of his brethren. Thus liberty goes hand in hand with that syncretism and coalition which is “the wisdom which enlarges the heart, which embraces generals, and looks down on all parties and partialities, sects, schisms, and factions, with a wholesome censorship and a philosophic tranquillity."
It is equally clear, on the other hand, that true liberty and liberality must always be sacrificed in proportion as sects and parties extend. Liberty must correspond with coalition, not with opposition ; with harmony, not with discord; with love, not with hatred. Hence liberty must ever be reduced, as sects and parties are augmented, for it is the precise nature of sects and parties, to hinder their members from taking those general transcendental and coalitionary views which would annihilate schisms. Thus every developement of liberty in one sect, is opposed by a developement of hostility in its antagonist, according to the prime law of Newton's Principia, “that action and reaction are equal.” The fatal consequence is, that the members of all sects and parties, instead of having liberty to think and act as freemen, are bound, soul and body, to the despotic tyranny of their faction, and dare not utter a word of private conviction, lest they should be excommunicated.
The bearing of syncretism and coalition on the rights of peace, is still more evident, as Grotius has proved, at large. Who knows not that the spirit of concord tends to produce general pacification, and that the same spirit of discord which embroils sects and parties, is too often developed into civil and foreign wars ? 'Tis the vitality of poison, the sophistry of hell, which, having first inflamed brother against brother at home, goes abroad to baptise murder and rapine by more euphonic names. Yes, with Grotius and Selden, the glorious advocates of universal peace, we take up our protest against this arch delusion of politicians, if, indeed, we may venture to honour with a title so august, the crackbrained pleaders for war and bloodshed, that last worse curse than can befall the human race.
We have now concluded these brief pleadings for syncretism which have been wrung from us by the tremendous obligations of conscience, the profound and unquenchable conviction of their all-important bearing on the critical destinies of our country. If we have learned any thing of political duty in the viginti annorum
lucubrationes recommended by Lord Coke, it is even this. It shall not be said that there was not a single lawyer, or a single periodical, to advocate the cause of coalition, when, for want of it, the glories of the British empire are becoming the mere ludibria venti, the idle sport of insensate parties. Our friends have done what they could to strengthen our hands; and the testimony of their own hearts will reward them : but let them expect no other recompense. The days of political and literary patronage, once accorded to genius and patriotism, have passed away, and none are noble enough to restore them.
The following letter shews that all the previous editors of the Monthly Magazine had not merited the condemnation that fell on poor Gobie. Our immediate predecessor, by his fair and candid criticism on Mr. Grisenthwaite's Book on Food, has fairly earned the following appeal.
Springfield Terrace, Grove Hill, Camberwell,
January 25, 1839. Mr. EDITOR, Sir,-For the very favourable opinion expressed in your publication respecting my little Essay on Food I beg to thank the writer of that article; and had he detected any mistake in my assumptions, or any fallacy in my reasoning, I should still have thanked him; for, assuredly, I have no wish to propagate error.-But, Sir, the chief design of this letter is to vindicate my Essay from the loose, and not very courteous criticism contained in the Monthly Review of last November. No species of composition is more useful than well-written and candid criticism. The reviewer is a character that stands between the press and the public to affix the true value upon literary labours; and when he discharges his duty faithfully, his office is honourable, and his services important. But when ignorance assumes the chair of the Censor, or dishonest perversion guides his judgment; and, much more, when ribaldry and spurious wit disgrace his decrees, then his office becomes contemptible and his services pernicious. Let us see in what character they appear in the Monthly Review for the last November. The writer in that publication-to whose hands my Essay on Food had been committed for judgment-opens his critique with no very brilliant specimen of logical acumen. He plays off Abernethy versus Henry, and Henry versus Abernethy, to establish the general truth, that whenever men differ upon points of speculation, certainty of conclusion is out of the reach of any-a very brief mode of putting a period to all research.
If this be an error in reasoning, so, I think, the reviewer has, injudiciously, placed these great names in opposition to each other, and his own words shall condemn him. “Abernethy," he says, “recommended purgative medicines for disordered bowels," and Henry “maintains, that nature has provided means of preventing, and obviating constipation in all cases except active disease.” Surely these opinions are not irreconcileable, but quite compatible! To cure disease and to prevent it, are not the same thing; or what becomes of the aphorism, that " prevention is better than cure." But this discrepancy is trifling compared with the contradictions, and something worse, into which the writer has fallen in his critique on my Essay on Food.
I could hardly believe that I was reading a review written in the nineteenth century when I met with the following sentence; the first bestowed on my publication. " Mr. Grisenthwaite's ingenious, but, as we fear, defective, and unsatisfactory Essay, is intended by scientific demonstrations to lead to the same practical conclusions ; amounting to this, that temperance and exercise are the only things to be prescribed for the prevention of disease and the preservation of health." Upon this extraordinary passage I would, first, observe, that the author of the paper in question either never read my Essay at all, or did not understand a word of it-wilful perversion, I cannot imagine-if he thinks that it was written with any view to recommend either “temperance or exercise.” The temperance and exercise recommended in it are mere corollaries drawn from other conclusions, and are only offered-as stated on the title page-as general rules fairly deducible from them. That this mistake was hardlyaccidental will appear by referring to page 343 of the review itself, where
glare for an instant with portentous scintillations, and then sink inte of darkness for ever.
cing If we could possibly be misunderstood by any intelligent mit console ourselves with the conviction, that we shall be dulys
esta ported among our syncretic brethren of the Freemasonin 22
dom of fraternity, who best understand the nature of the Catholic we advocate, always cleave to each other with a sworks
ations of They know how to defend each other and make the
ther great umphant. They know that this syncretic principles
discharge conciliation, is the only one on which the Christi patriot, can ever act securely and consistently, elevation of this principle is supreme, because be higher than the spirit of party; and the lessness of this principle is unrivalled, bec good in all sects and parties, ancient and The maintenance of this principle d
ce" defective and because most of their contemporarie Christian union, into the seducing & present affords one of the stronges
lewer-if competent tionists who seek to reconcile er
Ves, as any unsoundness Protestants, high Churchmer
ad of this, he says, on a subRadicals.
urisenthwaite's doctrinal system;" We shall conclude the pr
ay to weigh its author's oft repeated syncretism, on the right
guments.” In other words, the reviewer generally understood as
ucisfactory," though he never examined-nor all aspire, are necessar
inal system” itself, nor weighed "the many argucoalition, and eclecti
als would justify a harsher reproof than I am willing bring intellectual a
elle-même blesse assez sans y ajouter des termes forts. What is liberty went-drawn from the confessions of the reviewer himselfindividual and reader, what will he think when he hears the same writer say, that most in those or more of the production consists of the results of chemical as far as the in natural philosophy, natur
in natural philosophy, natural history, comparative anatomy, mathe conviction tricate arithmetical calculations ?” Not one of which does the reviewed liberty grotein
impugn; not one of which does he examine ! No! he says, he did not which
4 What then did he intend, if "eleven-twelfths or more" of my publicaand p
to be overlooked in the review of it? It appears that the less than ones polas furnished him matter for nine pages. But though scarcely a single digit
regay has escaped the obscuration of this review, I hope it will emerge from obra of that|opaque body, which has thrust itself in between the light of" scienthe lemonstration" and the public mind, however it may have for a momenttirecords of Arnobius--involved it, in "cæcis obscuritatabus."
gut, Sir, I will not deal with the “demonstrations” of the writer in the vonthly Review as he has done with mine, though his are, certainly, not" scientific let us hear his reasons—" plentiful as blackberries," and as choice !--why be declined to examine my “doctrinal system.” The first is because, as he says, " We could neither render the subject clear, instructive, nor amusing.” Very well : nobody will dispute the right of the reviewer to measure his own ability by his own standard, though surely he thought the Essay to be either "instructive or amusing," or be would not have wasted nine pages in the criticism upon it-unless he holds his pages as cheap as I do. But let us go on to his next reason; knowing, he says, 10 the second place," that it would still be but entering into a scientific controversy What! decline an examination of a professedly new doctrine because it would lead to controversy! Why, the very business of a reviewer is “controversy." He is the champion of the public, ever armed, and ever ready to attack error. If I have assumed false data, he should have exposed my assumptions. If I have reasoned inconclusively, he should have "controverted” it. To neglect these was to neglect every thing his readers have a right to expect from him. But, in the third place, he says, “We are aware of our incompetency to do the subject any thing like justice.” Why, certainly, the writer of the review must have forgotten his first reason before he unburdened himself of his third; for if the subject were of such importance as to embarrass him with difficulties in “doing any thing like justice to it." it must be either “instructive or amusing ;" for we never talk of "doing justice" to a subject which is void of all interest. This is another of his discrepancies; and they look like any thing but faculæ upon the bright page of a review.