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do's Letters on Spain.” Afterwards he engaged ardently in the Catholic controversy, and his thorough acquaintance with the system of Romanism made him a terrible assailant. He published an answer to Thomas Moore's "Travels of an Irish Gentleman in search of a Religion, “ The Poor Man's Preservative against Popery,
" Evidence against Catholicism," and “Letter to Charles Butler.” These works procured him many friends, and much reputation. He received a degree of Master of Arts from the University at Oxford, became a member of Oriel College, grew intimate with Coleridge, Southey, Archbishop Whately, Newman and Pusey (who were then almost Rationalists), Neander, and many others. In 1832 he went to Dublin to reside in Archbishop Whately's family, and he now seemed, after the anxieties of a troubled life, to have found a comfortable home in the midst of kind friends and admirers.
But truth demanded of him a new sacrifice. In his examinations of Christianity he had frequently been led to distrust the doctrines usually considered as orthodox, especially that of the Trinity. He had, however, concluded, that there was as much evidence for the Deity of Christ in the New Testament as against it, and that therefore, as an honest man, he might remain in the Church of England. But a correspondence with the Rev. George Armstrong, who, having been an Episcopal minister like himself, had become a Unitarian, opened his
* Of Moore's book, a writer in the Christian Examiner remarked, that it was indeed the travels of an Irish gentleman, for in looking for his religion he had looked everywhere but in the Bible.
eyes to the weakness of the arguments in support of the Trinity and Atonement. This was in 1834. In 1835, he felt it his duty to announce publicly this change of opinion, and leave the house of the kind Bishop Whately, lest by remaining he should expose him to censure from the bigots of the Church. He thus a second time gave up ease, quiet, a happy home, the esteem and friendship of troops of friends, and exposed himself at the age of sixty, and in ill health, to the chance of making for himself a new position. He went to Liverpool, and there remained till he died, May 20th, 1841.
During these last six years of his life, his mind continued active, and made much
His investigations, indeed, led him to the borders of extreme Rationalism, and threatened to separate him from his new Unitarian friends, and make a third renunciation necessary in the service of truth. This last trial, however, was spared him. Although many of his Unitarian friends dissented from his conclusions (or I should say from the tendency of his speculations), their esteem for his mind and character, and their confidence in his piety and nobleness, remained unimpaired, and he enjoyed their society and friendship to the close of his life.
The amount of his Rationalistic aberration has, I think, been exaggerated. On all matters of mere opinion, he seems to have been unsettled ; but if he did not dogmatically believe, neither did he dogmatically deny. We think the writer in the Christian Examiner mistaken (September, 1845) in saying that Blanco White, as he reached the close of life, quitted his last hold of positive Christianity, by giving up his belief in a future personal existence. He quotes in support of this view White's words in 1840, which seem to intimate this. But his letter to Professor Norton, in December of the same year, shows that he did not mean to deny a personal immortality, for he says, “I am far from denying the existence of individual men after death"; but that he relied rather on the inward consciousness of a divine presence in his heart, than
upon any outward testimony to philosophical doctrines. In another letter (December 16th, 1840), when expecting to die in a few hours, he says that this expectation did not disturb his certain conviction that our happiness in the future life does not depend upon the acknowledgment of propositions. If he expected happiness in the future life, he certainly expected to continue to exist, as a conscious being.
The structure of his mind was such as to keep him in an undecided state about questions which most men readily settle. He had that mental indecision for which Lamb offers so pleasant an apology in his well known letter to Southey: -"There are some who tremblingly reach out hands to the guidance of Faith, - others who stoutly venture into the dark (their Human Confidence their leader), and investing themselves beforehand with cherubic wings, as they fancy, find their new robes as familiar as the coat they left off yesterday. There are some whose hope totters upon crutches, others who stalk into futurity on stilts. One man shall love his friends and his friend's faces, and, under the uncertainty of conversing with them again, would be almost content to take up his portion with those whom he loves in this good world which he knows. Another, embracing a more exalted vision, so that he
might receive indefinite additaments of power, knowledge, beauty, glory, &c., - is ready to forego the recognition of humbler individualities of earth, and the old familiar faces. The shapings of our heavens are the modifications of our constitutions, and Mr. Greatheart, or Mr. Feeblemind, is born in every one of us.”
But whatever might be his waverings as regards positive Christianity, or his negations of supernaturalism, Blanco White never lost that practical piety, that living devotion, that profound trust in God, which is the sum and substance of all true religion. As he drew nearer to death, he seemed also to draw nearer to God. Some of his words during his last mortal sickness are these :
“ I have contributed my mite to the liberty of mankind. It is cast into God's treasury. I stand upon a rock. I have no doubts. I came from God and I go to him.”
“I am going, my dear friend, I am leaving you very fast. I have not formed such definite views of the nature of the future life as many have, but I trust Him who has taken care of me thus far. I should trust a friend, and shall I not trust Him?"
In a moment of intense pain :
“O my God! O my God! But I know thou dost not overlook
any of thy creatures. Thou dost not overlook me. Have mercy on me, O God! Have mercy on me! I cry to thee, knowing that I cannot alter any of thy ways. I cannot if I would, and I would not if I could. If a word could remove these sufferings, I would not utter it."
"I see the links in the chain of Providence which have brought me to where I am. I never doubted of
Providence, but I see it in my own case more than in a. treatise.”
One of his last sentences shows the marvellous union in his mind of the most profound and mystic piety with the sharp critical intellect, his assent to the deep meaning which led the Church to call Christ God, and his dissent from the logical statement :
" When the hour shall come, let it be said once for all, my soul will be concentrated in the feeling, 'My God, into thy hands I commend my spirit.' God to me is Jesus, and Jesus is God, - of course, not in the sense of divines.”
He died, May 24th, 1840, in the 66th year of his age.
The great intellectual conclusion to which White came was that which he fully expounded in his work on Heresy and Orthodoxy, a book written before he became a Unitarian. It was this,- that no doctrinal belief can be essential to salvation ; that salvation does not depend upon opinion ; that saving faith is not the belief of any doctrines; that religion is not theology, but inward life. He considered that all his sufferings and struggles would be compensated, if by means of them he should be enabled to lead any minds to understand and reject this fundamental error of all Orthodoxy.
Blanco White formed many friendships which adhered to the last. Among these friends may be mentioned Dr. Channing, Neander of Berlin, Professor Norton of Cambridge, Lord Holland, and Bishop Whately. Whately dedicated to him the first edition of his work on