The Map of Life, Conduct, and Character

By William Edward Hartpole Lecky | Go to book overview
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CHAPTER XI

THE necessities for moral compromise I have traced in the army, in the law, and in the fields of politics may be found in another form not less conspicuously in the Church. The members, and still more the ministers, of an ancient Church bound to formularies and creeds that were drawn up in long bygone centuries, are continually met by the difficulties of reconciling these forms with the changed conditions of human knowledge, and there are periods when the pressure of these difficulties is felt with more than common force. Such, for example, were the periods of the Renaissance and the Reformation, when changes in the intellectual condition of Europe produced a widespread conviction of the vast amount of imposture and delusion which had received the sanction of a Church that claimed to be infallible, the result being in some countries a silent evanescence of all religious belief among the educated class, even including a large number of the leaders of the Church, and in other countries a great outburst of religious zeal aiming at the restoration of Christianity to its primitive form and a repudiation of the accretions of superstition that had gathered around it. The Copernican theory proving that our world is not, as was long believed, the centre of the universe, but a single planet moving with many others around a central sun, and the discovery, by the instrumentality of

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